‘Blade Runner’ or ‘natural capital’? Green MEP challenges Environment Secretary over his vision for agriculture

Molly has accused Michael Gove of espousing a ‘Blade Runner’ approach to agriculture during his speech to the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) where the Environment Secretary shared a vision encompassing big data, genetic modification, robotics and artificial intelligence to boost agricultural productivity.

Molly, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, is attending the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), an event which runs parallel to the larger OFC and where Gove described an entirely contrasting vision based around ‘natural capital.’

Molly said:

“Gove has continued to tailor his message to his audience while describing wholly different visions for agriculture just hours and yards apart. At the ORFC he eulogised a Blade Runner approach to agriculture focusing on technology including drones and genetic modification, while at the ORFC he majored on natural capital. If we are to achieve the key strategic objectives of healthy food and a regenerated environment, then we need policies that provide clear direction. As Greens we aren’t frightened to say that this means offering subsidies only to organic and regenerative farming systems.”

She also warned that the proposed Agriculture Bill is just a set of tools with no legally binding requirements: 

“Michael Gove has a strange conception of legislation, describing his Agriculture Bill as a set of tools with few legally binding requirements. This is fence sitting to avoid difficult choices between very different systems of farming. While few environmentalists would have a kind word for the CAP it does at least have the benefit of being legally binding, while Gove’s warm words and his Agriculture Bill offer absolutely no legal guarantees about what farm support will look like after 2020.”