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

Group News

APPGSTA Annual Report 2017/18
October 2018

APPGSTA Income and Expenditure Statement
October 2018

Review of developments since 2010 APPGSTA report

- Professor David Leaver
February 2018

Westminster Hall Debate
Agriculture GCSE

(Julian Sturdy MP)
February 2018

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


2018 Archive


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2008 Archive

Science & Technology News



Small Robot Company raises £1m in quest for sustainable farming

A British agri-tech company which advocates sustainable farming by using robots on-farm has secured more than £1.2m through an online crowdfunding campaign.

The Small Robot Company has raised the hefty sum from more than 1,200 investors after breaking its funding target of £500,000 within minutes of its launch in mid-December.

The company’s successful start to its campaign was overwhelmingly due to backing from the farming community. It is also gathering pace with the technology community, including early investment from Matt Jones, Principle Designer at Google AI. more

Farming UK, 16 January 2019 

New research to examine £250m problem of lameness in dairy cows

Work has begun on a new £1 million research project to discover what causes lameness in dairy cows. On any given day, lameness affects around one in three milking cows in the UK, costing the industry around £250m a year.

BBSRC is funding new scientific research project led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to generate a deep understanding of the reasons dairy cows become lame.

The multi-institutional project is being run in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. more

Farmers Guardian, 15 January 2019

Spiders' natural toxins to help protect crops in new project

A major new project will see the use of spiders' natural toxins to offer a more sustainable approach to crop protection by reducing chemical inputs. The EcoStack project aims to develop sustainable crop production by developing new resources to support agricultural biodiversity and existing ecosystem services.

Many current chemical pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, are under increasing regulatory scrutiny due to the damaging environmental effects they can cause. However, the use of natural biopesticides, based on natural toxins found in species of spiders, will be used in the new project. more

Farming UK, 8 January 2019 

Genetically modified 'shortcut' boosts plant growth by 40%

Scientists in the US have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials.

The researchers say they have found a way of overcoming natural restrictions in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity.

They believe the method could be used to significantly boost yields from important crops including rice and wheat. The study has been published in the journal Science. more

BBC News, 3 January 2019 

Gove warns of risks of no deal Brexit

Defra Secretary Michael Gove has spelled out the potentially debilitating impact on the farming sector of a No Deal Brexit.

Opening the flagship Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Gove urged the industry to ‘look beyond the horizon and take a longer view’ of the benefits Brexit could bring.

He said it would provide the opportunity to break free from the shackles of the EU and embrace the opportunities provided by the ‘fourth agricultural revolution’, driven by technological advance. He said opportunities provided by the likes of robotics, drones, big data, gene editing and vertical farming will help boost productivity and reduce the industry’s reliance on labour. He urged farmers to embrace change. more

Pig World, 3 January 2019

Research reveals how plants branch out to access water

New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimise acquisition of water.

The discovery could enable crops to be bred which are more adaptive to changes in climate conditions, such as water scarcity, and help ensure food security in the future, according to researchers at the universities of Nottingham and Durham. more

Farmers Guardian, 28 December 2018 

Responsible innovation key to smart farming

Responsible innovation that considers the wider impacts on society is key to smart farming, according to academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Agriculture is undergoing a technology revolution supported by policy-makers around the world. While smart technologies will play an important role in achieving improved productivity and greater eco-efficiency, critics have suggested that consideration of the social impacts is being side-lined.

In a new journal article Dr David Rose and Dr Jason Chilvers, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, argue that the concept of responsible innovation should underpin the so-called fourth agricultural revolution, ensuring that innovations also provide social benefits and address potentially negative side-effects. more

Farm Business, 21 December 2018 

UK metaldehyde ban will have 'major impact' on British farmers

The banning of metaldehyde is “hugely disappointing” and will have a “major impact” on British farmers and growers, the NFU said today.

Defra has announced that a ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde, a common pesticide used against slugs, is to be introduced across Britain from Spring 2020.

However, products containing the chemical will still be authorised for use in other countries that export food to the UK. more

Farming UK, 19 December 2018 

Gene edited food imports into EU will be almost impossible to spot

The scientist responsible for the only public trial of a gene edited crop in Europe has said the EU decision to reclassify the plants as GM will cause a regulatory nightmare for food standard agencies.

European law currently requires food packaging to be labelled GM if more than 0.9% of any one ingredient is genetically modified.

But Rothamsted’s Professor Johnathan Napier, who has pioneered the GM production of Omega-3 fish oils by camelina plants, said the nature of the changes brought about by the technology would make it almost impossible to identify food imports into the EU that had been gene edited. more

Rothamsted Research, 18 December 2018 

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