Here come the reading glasses

Wairarapa farmer Mark Guscott finds age is catching up on him as he contemplates the pros and cons of the debate about genetic modification.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Wairarapa farmer Mark Guscott finds age is catching up on him as he contemplates the pros and cons of the debate about genetic modification.

I’VE GIVEN IN. IT’S OFFICIAL. IT’S BEEN coming for a while but I thought I could ignore it. It’s quite big news. Well I think so anyway. I’ve started wearing reading glasses. But only when the light is poor and only when I’m tired.

I’m not a completely old fart yet. Just don’t ask my teenagers that question.

Last time I wrote one of these columns I only thought I had got old. Maybe it’s because I’ll be turning 45 this year and I can’t round that down to 40 any more. As happens to all of us I had better get used to it and quickly.

Hopefully you’ve all had a decent Christmas and New Year and maybe some time off if you’re lucky. Today is January 5 and we’re off to Ohope Beach in about 10 days with a couple of other families. It’ll be good fun I’m sure, but it’s quite predictable that the news of the day at the moment is tents being washed away and campers heading home before the storm.

I expect it will clear up and be 30C and beautiful when we head away.

Fat chance. The grass is pumping and feeding stock is easy. Hopefully the overseas markets have had a good Christmas as well and they’re back to buying our products again as the last couple of months have been a bit untidy. I won’t get started on interest rates either as that will make me grumpy.

I saw late last year that the debate on GMO (genetically modified organisms) was going around the block again. It’s probably a good time to have a grown-up discussion about it as a country. I thought I’d get in early with my opinion while all the “experts” are still on holiday.

The easy wins that no-one can complain about like reducing possum numbers are offset by the difficult issues like gene editing in our food. I’m well aware that most of the big food commodities around the world are grown with the use of GMO technology and that the various types of GMO technology have moved a lot in the last 20 years.

If someone can assure me that GMO won’t be used in New Zealand-grown food then I guess I could be persuaded that it’s a good thing. But as a generalisation I’m not convinced at this stage about GMO. Maybe I just have trouble believing these so-called “experts”. They’re developing a reputation similar to politicians and the big media companies.

We’ve all heard the comment “technology will solve this problem for us in the future” right? We’ve all got these bloody cellphones attached to everything as well now. Do the numerous benefits of this technology outweigh the negatives like poor mental health and lack of community? These are only a couple of the issues and I know we can’t blame cellphones for everything but these new technologies have a bigger negative impact than we think.

I’m not suggesting we should go and live in caves and hunt with bows and arrows. What I am suggesting is when this GMO debate happens, think critically about the pros and cons and what the “experts” have to say about what could happen if, say, our high-paying overseas markets don’t like GMO. What then?

Are we prepared to be a commodity producer just like everyone else in the world? I’m not sure we want that. And big business will get greedy as they always do and look to make massive profits from this tech at our expense. Jeez I really am turning into a grumpy old bastard.

This is the year of the beef cow I reckon. That’s what I was telling a mob of my cows yesterday. They’re as fat as pigs and have good looking calves on them.

They’ll be very valuable come autumn to clear up some of the out-of-control paddocks on the new farm. I’m really enjoying the new mustering and different parts of the new farm. Here’s hoping the forecast deluge of rain for the whole North Island doesn’t happen. Enjoy the summer and let’s hope Mother Nature plays her part.