Regular news updates on the group's activities and key developments in science and technology in agriculture.

Group News

APPGSTA Annual Report 2016/17 September 2017

News release: APPG meeting highlights vital role of horticultural innovation post-Brexit, September 2017

APPGSTA Income and Expenditure Statement
July 2017

Promotion of Innovation

House of Commons, BEIS Questions
September 2016

APPGSTA Annual Report 2015/16
July 2016

APPGSTA Income & Expenditure Statement
July 2016

APPGSTA Annual Report 2014/15
July 2015

Balancing the Debate - Mark Spencer article for New Statesman
March 2015

Agri-science MP concerned over axing of EU chief scientist role
News Release, 13 November 2014

APPGSTA Annual Report 2012/13
January 2014

The UK as a global hub of agricultural innovation: George Freeman presentation to Oxford Farming Conference, January 2014

VIDEO: MP hails agri-tech project

VIDEO: George Freeman MP explains the significance of the Agri-Tech Strategy

UK Agri-Tech Strategy published

22 July 2013


APPGSTA Annual Report 2011/12

December 2012


Progressive agriculture can still be sustainable, Farm Business article, November 2012


George Freeman MP hails £250m bio-economy boost

24 May 2012


House of Lords Debate -

Innovation in EU Agriculture

February 2012


APPGSTA Annual Report 2010/11

December 2011



Support for agricultural R&D is essential to deliver sustainable increases in UK food production, November 2010


2017 Archive


2016 Archive


2015 Archive


2014 Archive


2013 Archive


2012 Archive


2011 Archive

2010 Archive

2009 Archive

2008 Archive

Science & Technology News



AHDB commits £5m to fix ‘fragmented’ farming innovation pipeline

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is committing £5m to fund Britain’s next generation of agricultural experts in an effort to overhaul the industry’s “fragmented” innovation and skills pipeline.

It will plough the funds into supporting PhD university students over the next five years, following its recent report which identified a UK productivity gap worth over £4bn in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Modern agriculture is a diverse and highly advanced technological industry which has attracted increasing numbers of university students over the last 10 years. But industry experts have warned that the UK must overhaul its “fragmented” innovation and skills pipeline to drive change within the sector and keep pace with competitor countries. more

Farming Online, 19 January 2018 

New crop breeding method is exempt from GMO rules - EU court adviser

Crops obtained by the plant breeding technique of mutagenesis do not fall under laws restricting the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but individual EU states can regulate their use, an adviser to Europe’s top court said on Thursday.

Mutagenesis, which generates a genetic mutation that can occur naturally or be induced, has been around for decades but advances in the technique have ignited a row over whether it should face the same EU rules as GMOs, which are often subject to a long process of scrutiny to win approval.

Michal Bobek, whose advice as advocate general is not binding but usually followed by European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges, said European Union rules on GMOs exempted mutagenesis and did not differentiate between old and new techniques. more

Reuters, 18 January 2018 

French seed group says GMO protests could force R&D relocation

Limagrain, the world’s fourth-largest seed maker, will consider moving its research activities out of France if field trials in its home market continue to be sabotaged by opponents of genetically modified crops.

The French cooperative group was targeted last month by protestors who invaded test fields southeast of Paris and scattered non-commercial seed. That was the latest in a series of actions by opponents of gene-editing technology, which they say will herald a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Limagrain said the incident ruined a 37-hectare trial of wheat based on conventional breeding and showed the risk of a repeat of virulent debate over GMOs. more

Reuters, 16 January 2018 

New robotics survey highlights more investment is needed

An AHDB Horticulture survey has revealed that 82 per cent of UK growers believe recent developments in automation have helped reduce their reliance on labour.

Growers also report key areas for future investment should be focused on harvesting and improvements within the pack-house.

Areas of production with particularly high manual labour inputs – such as harvesting – are high priority for future research and investment, with nearly 60 per cent of growers identifying this as an area to focus on. more

Farming Online, 9 January 2018 

Seed breeders warn of major Brexit impact

Seed breeders have warned that British production would decline if growers have less access to new varieties after Brexit.

The UK could end up producing less fresh produce and importing more without access to European variety catalogues and protection of Intellectual Property, seed breeders have warned. 

The news is a major reversal of pro-Brexit reports in the national press that have suggested Britain could become more self-sufficient in fresh produce, and comes as UK breeders have voiced fears that the impact on their sector has been forgotten, despite its significance to UK production and wider economy. more

Fresh Produce Journal, 9 January 2018 

Genetically-modified animals could be sold in UK after Brexit, says Michael Gove 

Genetically-modified animals could be sold in the UK after Brexit, Michael Gove has said.

The Environment Secretary said that “bio-tech changes” are coming which will “challenge us to think about the future” as he suggested gene editing could be used to create “more valuable livestock”.

But he admitted that the science was still “in its infancy” and that its use would raise “political and moral questions”. more

The Telegraph, 4 January 2018  

New technique opens door to faster crop breeding programmes

Scientists have drastically cut the time needed to breed new crop varieties using a combination of artificial environments and intense day-long lighting regimes using LED lights.

The speed-breeding platform allows as many as six generations of wheat to be grown in a single year, three times faster than the shuttle-breeding techniques currently used by breeders and researchers.

Six generations is also possible for bread wheat, durum wheat, barley, pea and chickpea, with four possible for canola. Brande Wulff of the John Innes Centre, Norwich, part of the international team with the University of Queensland and University of Sydney, said the improvement rates of several staple crops has stalled, but this new technique could overcome this. more

Farmers Weekly, 3 January 2018 

Rapid revolution in productivity needed

AHDB’s latest Horizon report said improved productivity was essential to capitalise on Brexit, feed the UK population and protect the environment

The UK has fallen significantly behind major competitors in its growth in productivity, with countries such as the USA and the Netherlands growing three times faster. This productivity gap was worth over £4.3bn in lost GDP between 2000 and 2013.

AHDB’s Driving productivity growth together report, launched at the Oxford Farming Conference, warned a revolution in productivity was necessary to capitalise on Brexit, continue to feed the country and protect the environment. more

Farmers Guardian, 3 January 2018 

New report shows UK farm productivity lagging behind major competitors

The USA and the Netherlands are out-performing the UK on agricultural productivity by as much as three times, according to a new report.

The AHDB study, as part of its Horizon series looking at the pressing Brexit questions and scenarios, states that UK agricultural productivity is lagging.

Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in the UK, which measures all inputs into outputs, has fallen behind that of many major competitors, averaging 0.9 per cent per year as opposed to 3.5 per cent in the Netherlands, and 3.2 per cent in the USA. more

Farming UK, 3 January 2018 

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