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

 

APPGSTA Report

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

 

2018 Archive

 

2017 Archive

 

2016 Archive

 

2015 Archive

 

2014 Archive

 

2013 Archive

 

2012 Archive

 

2011 Archive

2010 Archive

2009 Archive

2008 Archive

Science & Technology News

 

 

Environment in multiple crises - report

Politicians and policymakers have failed to grasp the gravity of the environmental crisis facing the Earth, a report claims. The think-tank IPPR says human impacts have reached a critical stage and threaten to destabilise society and the global economy.

Scientists warn of a potentially deadly combination of factors. These include climate change, mass loss of species, topsoil erosion, forest felling and acidifying oceans.

The report from the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research says these factors are "driving a complex, dynamic process of environmental destabilisation that has reached critical levels. more

BBC News, 12 February 2019 


Global insect decline may see 'plague of pests'

A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing "dramatic rates of decline" around the world.

The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom.

The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change. more

BBC News, 11 February 2019 


Food industry warns Gove on Brexit 'crisis'

The UK food industry has threatened to stop co-operating with government policy consultations, saying it is busy trying to stave off the "catastrophic impact" of a no-deal Brexit.

The warning came in a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove from more than 30 business leaders. They said it looked "ever more the likeliest outcome" that the UK would leave the EU without an agreement. They added that it was a "moment of potential crisis" for their industry.

Those signing the letter included the heads of the Food and Drink Federation, the National Farmers' Union and UK Hospitality. more

BBC News, 11 February 2019


Gene editing: how agritech is fighting to shape the food we eat

From battling disease in banana crops to overcoming avian flu, scientists are seeking wider acceptance for the technology. more

Financial Times, 9 February 2019 


Politicians face ‘critical choice’ on food security, warns scientist

A top scientist is waiting to hear whether MPs will probe the “urgent need” for additional government investment in crop protection.

Agricultural entomologist Toby Bruce – a professor at Keele University – presented his research on food security, environment and crop protection to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee late last month. Prof Bruce was one of just 10 speakers selected from 80 submissions to the committee’s My Science inquiry – which gives scientists and the public the opportunity to highlight important topics they believe deserve greater scrutiny.

Resistant pests and the loss of active ingredients to UK farmers mean there is an urgent need for investment in innovation in crop protection, he said. It is vital to bring new products to market and provide knowledge exchange for farmers tackling these challenges. more

Farmers Weekly, 5 February 2019 


Potatoes and other veg at risk due to climate change

Extreme weather events brought about by climate change are putting supplies of potatoes and other fruit and vegetables at risk, new report has warned.

Drought and extreme heat saw potato yields drop 20 per cent in 2018, with the conditions leading to smaller average sizes.

Analysis from The Climate Coalition says that as climate change intensifies, the UK could lose almost three-quarters of the area of land currently well suited for potatoes by 2050s. more

Farmers Guardian, 5 February 2019


Rapid gene cloning technique to transform crop disease protection

Researchers have pioneered a new method which allows them to rapidly recruit disease resistance genes from wild plants and transfer them into domestic crops.

The technique called AgRenSeq or speed cloning has been developed by John Innes Centre researchers alongside colleagues in the United States and Australia to speed up the fight against pathogens that threaten food crops worldwide.

It enables researchers to search a genetic “library” of resistance genes discovered in wild relatives of modern crops so they can rapidly identify sequences associated with disease fighting capability. more

Farming UK, 4 February 2019 


Petition calls for food and farming to be made a school subject

A petition which calls on the government to introduce agriculture as a compulsory subject up to year 9 and an option for GCSE has been launched.

The petition was launched this week, and needs 10,000 votes for a government response and 100,000 to trigger a debate in parliament.

It says: “Agriculture on a whole is an extremely important industry, it is used by everyone across the country, across the globe and it's not just for food. Hopefully, teaching children and young adults correct and factual information will help support UK and worldwide farmers and the industry in the future.” more

Farming UK, 29 January 2019 


GM chickens lay eggs with anti-cancer drugs

Researchers have genetically modified chickens that can lay eggs that contain drugs for arthritis and some cancers. The drugs are 100 times cheaper to produce when laid than when manufactured in factories.

The researchers believe that in time production can be scaled up to produce medicines in commercial quantities.

The chickens do not suffer and are "pampered" compared to farm animals, according to Dr Lissa Herron, of Roslin Technologies in Edinburgh. more

BBC News, 28 January 2019


Scientists make gene-edited chickens in bid to halt next pandemic

British scientists are developing gene-edited chickens designed to be totally resistant to flu in a new approach to trying to stop the next deadly human pandemic.

The first of the transgenic chicks will be hatched later this year at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said Wendy Barclay, a professor of virology at Imperial College London who is co-leading the project.

The birds’ DNA has been altered using a new gene editing technology known as CRISPR. In this case the “edits” are to remove parts of a protein on which the flu virus normally depends, making the chickens totally flu-resistant. more

Reuters, 23 January 2019 


Application made for UK GM wheat trials

Researchers at the John Innes Centre have applied for consent from Defra to carry out field trials of genetically modified wheat and CRISPR brassicas.

The GM wheat trials will look at using biofortification to increase the iron levels in commercial varieties of wheat, which researchers hope could help to alleviate anaemia around the world.

Brassicas modified using CRISPR gene-editing technology will determine the role of a gene which regulates sulphur metabolism in the crops. more

Farmers Guardian, 22 January 2019 


MEPs agree plans to improve EU pesticides approval procedure

The European Parliament has put forward plans aimed at boosting trust in the EU approvals procedure for plant protection products, by making it more transparent and accountable.

MEPs agreed that the public should be granted access to the studies used in the approvals process to authorise a plant protection product (PPP), including all the supporting data and information relating to an application, and in doing so endorsed one of the many proposals put forward by the special committee on the European Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST committee) set up in February 2018. more

Farmers Guardian, 22 January 2019 


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

 


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