There's a great line up of content and speakers at the Guild of Ag Journalists' Press day on the 17th March - see: http://www.gaj.org.uk/dates-deadlines. Sadly I can't attend. Two topics in particular are close to my heart and raise my blood pressure - The role and consumer perceptions of genetic modification (GM) and practical and novel ways to control pests following EU pesticide bans.
For all the EU political rhetoric on food sustainability - the left hand really doesn't even know that there is a right hand, let alone that it doesn't know what it is doing! I'll give you an example, I was in Denmark a fortnight ago, and I was told about the Danes' Green Growth plan, which is basically a pesticide tax. It has been in a political log jam for some time, but the intent is that it WILL become law.
Basically, in Denmark, crop protection chemicals will be taxed on 4 key factors, the toxicity of the product, the environmental impact (i.e. effects on bees/earthworms etc.), the environmental fate of the product and a basic tax on the amount of active ingredient in the product. I certainly don't disagree with the sentiment at all; however, with a crop like potatoes which need up to 8 sprays against potato blight in a growing season, a tax of around £25/treatment will certgainly make potato production in Denmark untenable. So what then... there is talk of subsidising farmers against these costs so that they continue to grow the crop. Crazy, crazy politics.
The same is true of GM - one day we will need to uyse biotech. Period. But we have little or no expreience of it in Europe - conjouring up biotech varieties and systems quickly and robustly WILL not and CANNOT happen overnight.
Stop the crazy policies - let's get some balance going on here.