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

2010 - Group News

Press release: George Freeman elected APPGSTA Chair

Press release: APPGSTA report calls for renewed focus on applied R&D

David Leaver Report

Annual Report 2009/10

Press release – Annual Report

Press Release - Warwick HRI

Warwick HRI – Jane Kennedy letter to Hilary Benn

Warwick HRI – Jane Kennedy letter to Nigel Thrift

Update – 3 March 2010

Update – 26 January 2010

Update – 16 December 2009

2009 Archive

2008 Archive

2010 Archive - Science & Technology News


Food prices to skyrocket in new year


Food prices are set to spiral in the new year exacerbating the squeeze on household budgets that have already been hit by higher petrol and energy bills.  Inflation statistics released by the Office for National Statistics show food prices rose by 1.6 per cent last month, an annualised rate of 19.2 per cent, the fastest rise since the 1970s.


Growing populations, rising affluence in Brazil, Russia, India and China, and crop failures caused by extreme weather have pushed up the prices of wheat, sugar, cotton and many other household staples.  Home


Belfast Telegraph, 22 December 2010

Fertiliser industry ‘ready for second global food crisis’

THE fertiliser industry has warned of a ‘second food crisis’ but says it is investing heavily in capacity to help address the production challenges facing farmers.


Soaring fertiliser prices in recent months have been identified by EU farm trade body Copa-Cogeca as a major threat to the ability of farmers to produce enough food to meet growing global demand. UK prices prices are expected to rise to around £310/tonne by March.


The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) has acknowledged that the speed and extent of the recovery in agriculture in the first half of 2010, following a massive decline in fertiliser sales and consumption in 2009, ‘took most analysts by surprise’. Home


Farmers Guardian, 22 December 2010


Clampdown on alternative 'medicines'

The government has ordered a clampdown on alternative veterinary remedies that could be dangerous to livestock.

Some herbal and homeopathic products were claiming medicinal benefits without scientific proof, said the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). This meant they may not properly treat or prevent serious diseases, leaving animals at risk. Home

Farmers Weekly, 22 December 2010



UK science funding bodies have learned that they will have to absorb cuts of 41% to their capital expenditure. This capital expenditure is money spent on building, maintainance or equipment.


These cuts are on top of the 10% real terms cut announced by the Chancellor George Osborne during the spending review in October. The news emerged as the science minister David Willetts announced how the science budget would be allocated to research funding bodies. More


Government GM stance could hit feed prices

THE Coalition Government’s failure to come up with a formal policy on genetically modified (GM) crops has left Defra officials rudderless during talks in Europe and unable to defend the interests of British farmers, according to a key industry body.   


Julian Little, chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), the umbrella group for the agricultural biotechnology industry in the UK, said an absence of formal policy forced officials to abstain on votes and talks that impacted heavily on feed prices.  More


Farmers Guardian, 17 December 2010


Non-native species cost ‘British economy £1.7bn’


Invasive non-native species such as the grey squirrel and Japanese knotweed cost the British economy £1.7bn a year, a report has suggested. Researchers said crops, ecosystems and livelihoods could be damaged when such species took hold.


The study found that the rabbit was the most economically damaging species, followed by Japanese knotweed. The research was conducted for Defra, the Scottish government and the Welsh Assembly Government. More


BBC News, 15 December 2010 



Hi-tech agriculture essential to keep lid on food price inflation

Today’s announcement of a record 1.6% increase in food prices between October and November 2010 is yet another wake-up call for Government to recognise and support the critical role of modern farming practices – including crop protection – in maintaining the quality, consistency and affordability of our food supply, says CPA chief executive Dominic Dyer.

According to the Office of National Statistics, UK food price inflation is running at its highest level for the month of November since records began, driven by increases in grain-based products such as flour, breakfast cereals and poultry. More


Farm Business, 14 December 2010



Animal health proposals unveiled


Farmers must be given more say in animal health policies before they can be expected to pay more towards the cost of combating livestock disease, government advisors have warned.

The independent advisory group on responsibility and cost sharing published its recommendations to ministers on Monday (13 December).


The proposals rule out the idea of imposing an animal disease levy on farmers, warning that the disadvantages far outweigh any advantages. But they do recommend setting up a partnership board as a way forward for responsibility and cost sharing for animal health and welfare in England. More


Farmers Weekly, 13 December 2010



Industry collaborates to underpin applied research


Growing national concern that vital applied horticultural research is losing out in terms of funding leaving the country’s scientific expertise in danger of being further eroded or lost, has led to an industry partnership to offer a new programme of science fellowships.


The horticulture industry has recognised that applied research is fundamental to the future health and prosperity of the industry and the need to support key researchers is vital. As a result, the East Malling Trust (EMT), the Horticultural Development Company (HDC) and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) have collaboratively developed Horticultural Fellowship Awards.


Applications from scientific research institutions and universities are now being sought. It is envisaged that around five individual Fellowships will be awarded, each worth up to £50,000 per annum and available for up to five years, starting from 01 April, 2011. More


Joint News Release – East Malling Trust, Horticultural Trades Association, Horticultural Development Company, 8 December 2010


UK scientists step closer to unravelling genetic code for yield in barley

Scientists have identified the genes responsible for visible differences in barley, which could help unravel the genetic code for valuable traits including yield, quality and disease resistance.


The group of researchers at NIAB TAG have identified stretches of barley DNA code that control a range of characters, from the eye-catching variations in barley awn-pigmentation to the shape and the structure of the ear, fundamental to differences in yield. More


Farmers Weekly, 8 December 2010 


Potato sector faces high cost of future pesticide and water legislation

Potato growers could see a 15% reduction in profitability due to impending legislative changes in the pesticide approval process, warned James Clarke of  ADAS.

Speaking at the inaugural ADAS Syngenta Potato Conference, held in Peterborough, Mr Clarke added that it could be compounded by the cost of meeting water quality legislation. He highlighted that the worst-case scenario of meeting water standards, such as the Water Framework Directive, could hit potato profitability by 35%. More


Farmers Weekly, 8 December 2010

Ban on pesticides 'would add £70bn to UK food bill'

A LIFE without crop protection products may seem an ideal one for those committed to organic farming, but a new report warns that food costs could soar up to 40 per cent in the UK and add £70 billion to the country's food bill if pesticides are banned.

The Value of Crop Protection report, by leading economist Sean Rickard of Cranfield University, examines the value of crop protection to the food chain and living standards and concludes that food production would fall to half its present level with prices rocketing.

To offset the loss of output, the report reckons that arable farmers would need to double their prices and livestock producers would need to increase prices by a third to cover the higher costs of feed. More

The Scotsman, 7 December 2010


Africa ‘can feed itself in a generation’


A new book claims Africa could feed itself within a generation, and become a major agricultural exporter. The book, The New Harvest, by Harvard University professor Calestous Juma, calls on African leaders to make agricultural expansion central to all decision-making. Improvements in infrastructure, mechanisation and GM crops could vastly increase production, he claims. More


BBC News, 2 December 2010



Call for increase in applied R&D funding


It is possible applied research funding for agriculture could be on the up, after many years of decline, following a review by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.


The group, supported by a report written by Prof David Leaver, is calling for a renewed focus on applied research  in agriculture, to meet the 21st century challenge of producing more food while impacting less on the environment.


All-Party group chairman George Freeman MP explains that the UK's capabilities and infrastructure for applied agricultural R&D and extension services have been seriously eroded over the past 25 years, reflected in a gradual decline in the relative production efficiency and international competitiveness of UK agriculture. More


British Grassland Society, 28 November 2010



MPs call on Government to stem decline in applied agricultural research funding


A group of MPs has published a report calling on the Government to transfer more public money from basic to applied agricultural and horticultural research.


The Government is being urged to act by its All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Science & Technology in Agriculture. Earlier this month the group presented its report, Support for Agricultural R&D is Essential to Deliver Sustainable Increases in UK Food Production, to farming minister Jim Paice.


Newly-elected APPG chairman George Freeman MP, presenting the report, said: "The emerging global challenges of food security and climate change have brought greater recognition among policy-makers of the role science and innovation can play in helping farmers become more productive and resource-efficient."


"But the UK's capabilities and infrastructure have been seriously eroded over the past 25 years. In particular, the report highlights the urgent need to reverse the progressive withdrawal of public-sector funding for applied research.” More


Horticulture Week, 26 November 2010



Cloned meat ‘unlikely to present risk’


There is ’no substantial difference’ between meat and milk from cloned and conventional animals and that from clones animals is ’unlikely to present a food safety risk," says the Food Standards Agency. More


Farm Business, 26 November 2010



Feed crisis looms as non-GM soya becomes scarce


Feed industry experts are warning sources of non-GM soya are becoming more difficult to obtain, and say the situation is becoming increasingly difficult, and is likely to reach a crisis point next year. More


Farmers Guardian, 26 November 2010



Met Office says 2010 ‘among hottest on record’


This year is heading to be the hottest or second hottest on record, according to the Met Office. It says the past 12 months are the warmest recorded by Nasa, and are second in the UK data set, HadCRUT3.


The Met Office says it is very confident that man-made global warming is forcing up temperatures. More


BBC News, 26 November 2010


Climate change and disease will spark new food crisis, says UN

A food crisis could overtake the world in 2011, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, an agency of the United Nations.

Climate change, speculation, competing uses such as biofuels and soaring demand from emerging markets in East Asia are the factors that will push global food prices sharply higher next year, claims the FAO.

The FAO warns the world to "be prepared" for more price hikes and volatility if production and stocks do not respond. Price hikes of 41 per cent in wheat, 47 per cent in maize and a third in sugar are foreseen by the FAO. The last time that happened it sparked riots from Mexico to Indonesia. More

The Independent, 18 November 2010

Food prices may rise by up to 20%, warns UN

The UN today warned that food prices could rise by 10%-20% next year after poor harvests and an expected rundown of global reserves. More than 70 African and Asian countries will be the worst hit, said the Food and Agricultural Organisation in its monthly report.

In its gloomiest forecast since the 2007/08 food crisis, which saw food riots in more than 25 countries and 100 million extra hungry people, the report's authors urged states to prepare for hardship. More

The Guardian, 18 November 2010

Norfolk MP's top parliamentary post

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman has been elected chairman of an influential parliamentary group on science and technology in agriculture. The cross-party group, with members from the House of Commons and the Lords, aims to promote the role of science and technology in meeting the challenges facing 21st century agriculture.

Mr Freeman, who comes from a farming background in East Anglia, was a former parliamentary officer of the National Farmers’ Union at Westminster for three years. He also founded the rural economy group before starting a 15-year career in biotechnology venture capital. “I am delighted to play an active part in raising the profile of agricultural science, and to highlight the need for renewed public sector investment in research of practical benefit to agriculture and food production. More

Eastern Daily Press, 16 November 2010

Climate change hurting China’s grain crop: report

Climate change could trigger a 10 percent drop in China’s grain harvest over the next 20 years, threatening the country’s food security, a leading agriculture expert warned in comments published Friday.
Tang Huajun, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, warned crop production could fall by five to 10 percent by 2030 if climate change continues unchecked, in an interview with the official China Daily.

The Independent, 9 November 2010

Bridge the organic-GM divide to feed the world, urges leading botanist

Supporters and opponents of transgenic biotechnology must begin a constructive dialogue at once if world food output is to keep pace with a growing population, a leading academic has urged.
Sir David Baulcombe, regius professor of botany and Royal Society research professor at Cambridge University, said he believed organic and pro-GM arguments could be reconciled, advocating a new approach he called "organogenics".

Farmers Weekly, 8 November 2010

Wheat and corn fuel food price rise

A sharp rise in the cost of wheat and corn led to the biggest increase in food prices for more than a year last month, an industry body said.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned that more increases were on the way due to higher VAT in January and because many retailers have been shielding consumers from price hikes.
It said food prices in October were 4.4% higher than a year ago, the highest annual increase since June 2009, after a 47% jump in the cost of wheat and a 61% rise in the cost of corn drove up a host of staples from bread to meat.

Press Association, 3 November 2010

Paice unveils £13m farm emissions project

Farming Minister Jim Paice has announced funding of £12.6 million to improve understanding about how UK agriculture contributes to climate change.
Agriculture contributes about eight per cent of all UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
But the way farming emissions are calculated fails to take into account the differences between different farming practices or the effects of innovative approaches and new policies that aim to reduce GHG emissions.

Farmers Guardian, 3 November 2010

Scientists call for closer links to farming

The gap between scientific research and the farm gate needs to be reduced, according to speakers at the Crop World conference.

Links between research and the end user were efficient in industries such as medicine, but agriculture had no such clarity, Tina Barsby, chief executive officer for plant science organisation NIAB TAG told conference visitors.

NIAB TAG was working to fill this void by making new genetic material available to plant breeders and filtering knowledge from its scientists to farmers via its team of agronomists, she said. More

Farmers Weekly, 3 November 2010

Science ‘unscathed’ by spending cuts

Agricultural science appears to have emerged relatively unscathed from the Government’s drastic spending cuts, according to a leading figure from the UK farm science sector.

Professor Maurice Moloney, director of Rothamsted Research, said he had feared the worst ahead of last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

“But I have to say it was not as bad as I expected it could have been,” he told the CropWorld conference in London. He said the wider scientific community had successfully argued about the importance of investing in science to senior Ministers, like Business Secretary Vince Cable. More

Farmers Guardian, 2 November 2010

New scientific study helps to reveal possible reasons for the decline of pollinators

Findings from a new scientific study, released today by the Countryside Survey Partnership, show that the total effect of changes to small patches of land over a number of years could be one of the factors in the decline of pollinating insects such as bees.

The Countryside Survey Integrated Assessment report examines the status and trends of ecological processes that have value for individuals or society within Great Britain. Headline messages from the report concern different ecosystem services, including pollination, soils, and the quality of freshwaters and their relationship with biodiversity.

The analysis reveals that between 1990 and 2007 the number of wild plant species that provide nectar for bees has decreased, in small patches of semi natural habitat. These small but highly significant changes combine to make a total reduction in the areas supporting wild nectar providing plants that pollinators rely on. More

Defra, 27 October 2010

Global food crisis forecast as prices reach record highs

Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years, with scientists predicting further widespread droughts and floods.

Although food stocks are generally good despite much of this year's harvests being wiped out in Pakistan and Russia, sugar and rice remain at a record price.

Global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks while meat prices are at 20-year highs, according to the key Reuters-Jefferies commodity price indicator. Last week, the US predicted that global wheat harvests would be 30m tonnes lower than last year, a 5.5% fall. Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels. More

The Guardian, 25 October 2010

Evidence suggests agriculture is recession-proof

Agriculture is often regarded as being relatively recession-proof and figures just published have added further weight to the argument.

For the first time, the organisation behind BACS direct debit and direct credit payments has produced a breakdown of its payments over the past three years.

The figures show the volume of payments within the agricultural sector increased by 2% between August 2007 and August 2010, whereas many other sectors saw sharp falls. More

Farmers Weekly, 21 October 2010

Volatile grain market threatens national security, warns report

Britain must plan for an era of high grain prices and tight food reserves, warns a national security strategy identifying key threats to the country.
Global grain stocks are at their lowest historical level and increasingly dependent on international shipping, says the government document. Supplies per head of population could run out within 40 days.
Demand for food will rise as a growing global population and becomes increasingly urbanised and wealthier, warns the report. At the same time, trends such as climate change will put greater pressure on supplies.

Farmers Weekly, 19 October 2010

UK crops to face water supply crunch, may relocate

Agricultural crops in Britain may need to be moved to new areas as the threat of both drought and flooding rises in the coming decades, a report commissioned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England said on Monday.
The report said climate change was expected to produce higher temperatures, drier summers and wetter winters across much of England.

Reuters, 19 October 2010

EU approves food from offspring of cloned animals

The European Commission has given the green light for member states to sell the offspring of cloned animals and their products into the food chain.
In a report published today (Tuesday) the Commission said a ban ‘would not be justified on grounds of protecting animal welfare, animal health or public health in so far as there are no welfare concerns for the offspring of clones’.
It added because food from the offspring of clones ‘cannot be distinguished from food from other animals’, a complete traceability system would be needed.

Farmers Guardian, 19 October 2010

More maize needed for US biofuel

Demand for maize will be boosted by a US announcement that its road fuels will be allowed to contain up to 15% bioethanol in future.
The recent US Environmental Protection Agency announcement was widely expected and allows cars and light trucks made since 2007 to use the new higher rate blend, up from the current 10% rate.

Farmers Weekly, 18 October 2010

Councils warn MPs of threat to food security

Three Sector Skills Councils have joined forces in the Houses of Parliament to alert politicians and civil servants to gaps in the training and qualifications needed to maintain long-term food security.

The event was staged after the three Sector Skills Councils, Lantra, Improve Limited and Skillsmart Retail, all reported worrying skills gaps impacting upon the UK’s ability to feed itself. As a result they have formed The Food Supply Network.

Peter Martin, Chief Executive of Lantra said, "The contribution of our three sectors to the UK’s economy and food supply is much greater than often recognised. If our workforce is not trained and able to meet the challenges of climate change, an expanding population and decreasing resources, as well as the pace of technological change, then this will cause real problems in the future." More

Farming UK, 13 October 2010

World must tackle water-shortage threat: adviser

Water shortages will be the world's most pressing problem in the next decade, compounded by a growing global population, Britain's chief scientist John Beddington said on Tuesday.

Climate change is forecast to disrupt rainfall patterns, leading to more severe droughts and floods, posing problems for the supply of fresh water.

The world's population of about 6.6 billion is forecast to rise by 2.5 billion by 2050, while growing wealth and urbanization is fuelling demand for water.

Reuters, 12 October 2010

Climate change threatens UK harvest

Climate change could push up food prices by causing large-scale crop failures in Britain, the Met Office has warned.

Rising temperatures could mean events such as the drought in Russia this summer, which pushed up grain prices, hit countries like the UK.

But they said the worst effects of climate change could be limited by investment in better farming and the development of new drought resistant or heat tolerant crops. This could be done by aid money, breeding and new technologies like genetic modification (GM). More

Daily Telegraph, 8 October 2010

New study shows benefits of Bt corn to farmers

A group of agricultural scientists reported in the journal Science that corn that has been genetically engineered to produce insect-killing proteins isolated from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) provides significant economic benefits even to neighboring farmers who grow non-transgenic varieties of corn, says the USDA.

"Modern agricultural science is playing a critical role in addressing many of the toughest issues facing American agriculture today, including pest management and productivity," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This study provides important information about the benefits of biotechnology by directly examining how area-wide suppression of corn borers using Bt corn can improve yield and grain quality even of non-Bt varieties." More

Farm Business, 8 October 2010

Food prices risen twice as fast in UK compared with Europe, Defra says

Food prices have risen at twice the rate in Britain compared with Europe over the last three years, according to a Government report.

Food prices in the three years to June 2010 increased by 8.1 per cent in Britain, twice the average increase in Europe and 2.7 times larger than the increase in France, the report by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said.

In its publication of the annual food and farming statistics, Defra pointed out that global food inflation, which raged around the world during 2007 to 2008, hit British shoppers harder than their European neighbours. The price rises were triggered by following a series of failed harvests. More

Daily Telegraph, 1 October 2010

Climate change growing threat to Asian food security

How quickly could climate change worsen hunger? According to a new report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), expected changes in temperature, rainfall and storms could put an additional 49 million people in Asia at risk of hunger by 2020. That's just 10 years away.

By 2020, the report says, crop yields in some areas of Asia will be down by 10 percent, even as population growth continues to rise. Demand for meat and milk - products that will take an increasing share of agricultural crop production - is also expected to grow.

Reuters, 30 September 2010

One-fifth of world’s plants at risk of extinction

One-fifth of the world's plants - the foundation of life on Earth - are at risk of extinction, a study concludes.

Researchers have sampled almost 4,000 species, and conclude that 22% should be classified as "threatened" - the same alarming rate as for mammals. A further 33% of species were too poorly understood to be assessed.

The analysis comes from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Natural History Museum and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

BBC News, 29 September

£6.5m scheme targets water pollution from farms

A five-year, £6.5 million project to tackle water pollution from agriculture has been launched by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Welsh Assembly.

The project will involve farmers in three river catchment areas: Eden, Cumbria; Wensum, Norfolk; and Hampshire Avon. It will cover a whole range of farm types, including sheep and beef in Cumbria, dairy, and arable and pig farming in East Anglia.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said the large-scale project would test how farmers could reduce their environmental footprint while continuing to farm profitably and productively. More

Farmers Guardian, 28 September 2010

EU governments condemn GM powers handover

Ministers from pro- and anti-GM governments have attacked European Commission plans to hand member states the power to ban or authorise genetically modified crops.

The proposals were put forward in July by EU health commissioner John Dalli with the aim to end the political deadlock on GM crop cultivation in the EU.

But the plans were criticised by countries on both sides of the GM debate at a council meeting on Monday (27 September), leaving the policy in danger of being withdrawn or radically modified.

Member states fear the proposal could undermine internal trade in agricultural products, and might be against World Trade Organisation rules, charges refuted by Commissioner Dalli in a press conference in Brussels after the meeting. More

Farmers Weekly, 28 September 2010

Britain is more reliant on food imports than at any stage over the last 40 years.

Official statistics indicated that Britain's self-sufficiency – the measure of how much of the food eaten in Britain is grown here – is 58.9 per cent. The last time the country grew so little of what it ate was in 1968.

A leading Government adviser said the figure, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was deeply worrying and said it proved British consumers needed to radically change their diet.

The figure is a reversal of the trend in recent years, when Britain started to eat more home-grown food. It comes as an increasing number of sheep and dairy farmers have abandoned the industry after failing to make enough money from farming. More

Daily Telegraph, 25 September 2010

Local food not always the greenest option

Media and marketing messages surrounding greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, including food miles, ‘often run ahead of science’ with some commonly held views not even supported by science, said Gareth Edward-Jones, agricultural professor at Bangor University.

He said there was no evidence to show local was always best, although it could be the best environmental option. Storage and packaging had to been considered in terms of emissions but the distance to distribution centres made little difference to the carbon footprint of food.

Farmers Guardian, 24 September 2010

Scientists must convince consumers on technology

Western consumers are distrustful of science so scientists must communicate carefully when talking about the increasing reliance on technology to feed the world. That was the message from Tim Rymer, JSR chairman, when looking to the future challenge of feeding a growing population (nine billion by 2050) from the same, or shrinking, land area.

He said farmers would have to improve risk management skills in view of the volatility in agricultural commodities, tackle climate change and employ sustainable farming systems.

Farmers Guardian, 24 September 2010

David Willetts warned over science cuts by universities

Deep cuts in the UK science budget will harm the research base, universities and the economy, the heads of six leading universities have warned.
Their views are in a letter from the Lords science and technology committee to Science Minister David Willetts. They say the best researchers will move to countries that are investing more in research and development.

BBC News, 23 September 2010

British food prices 'highest in Europe'

Food prices are higher in Britain than any other European country, a survey has found. British shoppers can expect to spend £137.13 on a basket of food which would cost just £119.57 in France and £120.40 in Germany.
Researchers used harmonised consumer prices based on Eurostat statistics to calculate the cost of a basket of food. Items included cereals, meat, fish and seafood, milk, cheese, eggs, fruit, vegetables, sugar and confectionary.
Results were then fed into a "quality of life" survey which concluded that the UK and Ireland were the worst places to live in Europe.

Farmers Weekly, 23 September 2010

Global plant inventory cuts 600,000 species records

The inventory of plants known to science worldwide has been cut by more than 600,000 species names. Many plants have been named more than once, so for the past two years, scientists have been developing an accurate record of the world's plants.
The ongoing study involves UK and US researchers, who expect the final number of recorded species appearing on the Plant List to be closer to 400,000. The list, to help plant conservation, will be published later this year.

BBC News, 20 September 2010

Climate change advisers urge UK to prepare for change

The UK needs to prepare itself quickly to deal with the impacts of climate change, government advisers warn. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says climate effects are already being felt in the UK in the form of higher temperatures and changing seasons.

Using land more sensibly, adapting buildings and planning for emergencies are areas where it recommends action. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman describes the CCC's adaptation report as "a wake-up call".

BBC News, 16 September 2010

New measures to control Bovine TB in badgers

Proposals for additional measures to help control bovine tuberculosis in cattle were published for public consultation today by Agriculture Minister Jim Paice.

Defra is consulting on a proposal to issue licences to farmers and landowners who wish to cull and/or vaccinate badgers at their own expense. These licences would be subject to strict licence criteria to ensure badger control is done effectively, humanely and with high regard for animal welfare.

Defra, 15 September 2010

Keep vital pesticide committees, Government told

Six key UK farming and food chain organisations led by the Crop Protection Association have joined forces in urging the coalition Government not to scrap or weaken the role of two key committees responsible for providing independent advice on pesticide issues.

Recent discussions with senior officials at Defra, HSE and the Chemicals Regulation Directorate have indicated that the future of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) and the Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) could be at risk under the Government’s cost-cutting review of quangos and committees.

In a joint letter to Defra secretary Caroline Spelman, the six organisations have highlighted the critical role of both Committees in ensuring public confidence in the regulation and use of pesticides.

Farming UK, 15 September 2010

925 million in chronic hunger worldwide

FAO and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said that the number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high despite expected recent gains that have pushed the figure below 1 billion.

The new estimate of the number of people who will suffer chronic hunger this year is 925 million — 98 million down from 1.023 billion in 2009.

"But with a child dying every six seconds because of undernourishment related problems, hunger remains the world’s largest tragedy and scandal," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "This is absolutely unacceptable." More

Farm Business, 14 September 2010

Lord Sainsbury call for new debate on GM crops

A former science minister has called for the debate on genetically modified crops to be reopened, arguing they are vital for a growing global population. Ahead of his speech at the British Science Association festival, Lord Sainsbury warned it would be foolish for the UK to rule out the technology. He said proper scientific evidence was needed about GM crops - branded "Frankenstein foods" in the past. Currently, there is no commercial cultivation of GM crops in the UK. More

BBC News, 14 September 2010

Scientists discover cold climate gene

Scientists have found a gene that limits the growth of plants in cool environments.

A study by researchers at Edinburgh and York universities have identified a gene that limits the growth of plants in cool environments. The protein, known as the spatula gene, is thought to help plants adjust to lower temperatures. But by manipulating the gene, researchers believe they could produce the opposite effect leading to crops which are suited to cooler climates.

BBC News, 9 September 2010

Rise in global food prices expected to continue

The global spike in food prices is already feeding through to the shops, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a taste of higher inflation to come.
Food inflation rose to its highest in a year last month, to an annual rate of 3.8 per cent, said the BRC, a marked acceleration on July's figure of 2.5 per cent. By contrast, the slowdown in the economy limited price rises in other items to just 0.5 per cent on the year, down from 1 per cent in July.
Stephen Robertson, the director general of the BRC, warned: "Past rises in the cost of global commodities, such as wheat and sugar, are filtering through to food prices.

The Independent, 8 September 2010

Protect rural funding, Potato Council warns

Rural Development funding programmes across the UK should be protected from the coalition government's austerity measures, the Potato Council's chairman Allan Stevenson said at the opening of a new £600,000 potato storage research facility at Sutton Bridge.
The new state-of-the-art store was built with the help of £270,000 grant from East Midlands Development Agency, and Mr Stevenson said without the grant the Potato Council would not have had the ability to fund the development.
"We must find a way of protecting this type of funding across the UK. It is the type of investment critical to enterprise creation. To the government, I say, apply your cuts to those that consume rather than create to allow similar projects to happen within agriculture and science."

Farmers Weekly, 6 September 2010

Welsh red meat is greenest in UK

Red meat produced in the mountains of mid Wales is among the greenest in the UK according to a study.
Beef and lamb producers from 20 farms in the Cambrian Mountains volunteered to have the carbon footprints of their businesses scrutinised to understand how they could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The study revealed that on average these 20 farms absorbed 58% of their local emissions footprints while three of the farms were classified as "carbon negative" - they absorbed more carbon emissions than they produced.

Farmers Weekly, 5 September 2010

Global food shortage fears as Russia extends wheat ban

Vladimir Putin has announced Russia will not lift a ban on grain exports before next year’s harvest, extending the embargo for another year, sparking fears over a global food shortage.
The Russian prime minister said that it was “necessary to note that we will only be able to consider lifting the grain export ban after next year’s harvest ... and we have clarity on the balances”.
His announcement came after deadly protests in Mozambique and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation calling an emergency meeting to discuss the shortages.

Daily Telegraph, 3 September 2010

JCB Academy opens its doors

THE UK’s first academy dedicated to engineering welcomed its first pupils on Thursday September 3, four years after the vision for the unique school was conceived.
The Year 10 students, 120 in total, arrived for lessons at the new £22 million JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire where they will study a curriculum designed to produce the engineers and business leaders of the future. The Academy, the idea of JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, came about as he wished to reduce the decline and dearth of young people with engineering skills emerging from the education system.

Farmers Guardian, 3 September 2010

Apple genome is cracked by geneticists

A team of 86 global scientists have sequenced the genome of the Golden Delicious apple for the first time. The DNA breakthrough could result in new and improved apple varieties which are more resistant to disease. Scientists from 20 institutions took two years to unravel the apple's code - the largest plant genome uncovered to date. More

BBC News, 30 August 2010

Major scientific breakthrough will increase wheat yields

A TEAM of British researchers has cracked one of the toughest genetic codes of any plant with the first mapping of a wheat genome – a genome five times larger than its human equivalent.

Plant experts have described the breakthrough, which reveals 95 per cent of all wheat genes, as ‘a major scientific discovery’ which will help farmers across the world increase wheat yields to meet growing global demand for food. More

Farmers Guardian, 27 August 2010

Energy prices, speculation to blame for recent food price hike, says World Bank
A EU-World Bank analysis of the causes of the 2007-2008 food price crisis blames energy prices and financial speculators for the hikes, downplaying the role of biofuels and increased demand in developing countries.
The report on the 2006-2008 commodity price boom argues that energy prices and commodity speculation played the biggest roles in the unexpected food price hikes of three years ago.
It concludes that a stronger link between energy and non-energy commodity prices is likely to be the dominant influence on developments in commodity, and particularly food, markets.

Euractiv, 26 August 2010

'Few disadvantages' to large herds, say Government welfare advisors
THE Government’s farm animal welfare advisers have concluded that there are ‘few disadvantages’ to cows being housed in large herds.

In newly published advice to UK Ministers, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) says cows kept in large, permanently housed herds can enjoy a ‘satisfactory standard of welfare’, defined as, ‘at the very least, a life worth living’. More

Farmers Guardian, 17 August 2010

Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050
Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world's leading scientists report today.

But a major academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, suggests that even with new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, hundreds of millions of people may still go hungry owing to a combination of climate change, water shortages and increasing. More

The Guardian, 16 August 2010

Sheep immunity study offers hope of savings for farmers
Scientists are a step closer to combating a stomach worm infection in sheep that costs UK farmers £80 million every year.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Moredun Research Institute have discovered a molecule that may help the worm beat the sheep’s natural defences. More

Farm Business, 11 August 2010

Rice yields falling under global warming
Global warming is cutting rice yields in many parts of Asia, according to research, with more declines to come. Yields have fallen by 10-20% over the last 25 years in some locations.

The group of mainly US-based scientists studied records from 227 farms in six important rice-producing countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, India and China. This is the latest in a line of studies to suggest that climate change will make it harder to feed the world's growing population by cutting yields.

BBC News, 9 August 2010

EU scientists concerned by broiler welfare
EU scientists have identified a number of concerns relating to the genetic selection of broiler birds and to the management of parent stock.

According to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority, the growth rate of broilers increased by 400% in the second half of the last century, and this has led to a number of welfare problems.

Farmers Weekly, 5 August 2010

Costs of animal disease outbreaks rising steeply
Urbanisation and growing demand for animal products in developing countries are causing the potential costs of animal disease outbreaks to rise steeply, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Monday.
"We are expecting the costs to human, animal and plant health of these pathogens, and their overall economic costs, to rise substantially over the next decades," Juan Lubroth, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer said in a statement.
With more than half of the world's population now living in cities, urban areas are sprawling closer to intensive farming operations, while at the same time, the consumption of animal products is on the rise.

The Independent, 27 July 2010

Boost for biomass power in first energy statement
Renewable energy projects generating electricity from wood or waste received a boost today (27 July) when the government announced extra support for the biomass sector.
In the first Annual Energy Statement to Parliament, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne set out 32 actions being taken to accelerate the transformation of the energy system and wider economy.
Among them was a decision to "grandfather", or fix, levels of support under the Renewables Obligation for 20 years after completion, subject to the 2037 end date for the RO. This brings most bioenergy projects into line with other technologies such as wind.

Farmers Weekly, 27 July 2010

Fuelling sugar beet’s future
UK farmers could be at the forefront of a massive growth in bioethanol production, according to speakers at this week's World Association of Beet and Cane Growers conference in Cambridge.

The International Sugar Organization's Peter Barron predicted a doubling of global ethanol by 2015 to 130-150bn litres and trade in fuel ethanol could jump from 4bn litres to 21-25bn as government policies favoured greener fuels.

Farmers Weekly, 21 July 2010

Waitrose backs food security research
Research into global food security problems has been given a boost thanks to a new partnership between Waitrose and Aberystwyth University.

The supermarket is funding the Waitrose chair of sustainable agriculture at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). Professor Gareth Edwards-Jones has been confirmed in the role and will take up the post in September 2010.

FreshInfo, 19 July 2010

Power to ban GMs handed to member states
EU Commission plans, to hand individual member states the power to decide whether to grow or ban GM crops, would set a dangerous precedent, industry leaders have warned.
EU health commissioner John Dalli said governments needed more freedom and flexibility to organise the cultivation of GM crops next to unaltered or organic crops.
Mr Dalli said the EU should step in only if GM crops posed a health or environmental danger.
But the NFU said such a move would set a dangerous precedent for the European regulatory system and threatened both the internal market and farmer choice.

Farmers Weekly, 15 July 2010

GM crops – individual governments to have responsibility
EU countries would decide for themselves whether to allow authorised genetically modified crops to be grown at home. The commission is proposing to give EU member countries the freedom to decide whether to grow genetically modified crops, an issue that has divided the bloc for decades.
The EU would continue to approve genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation based on scientific recommendations about their safety. But individual governments would be free to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of any or all EU-authorised GMOs – on all or parts of their territory.

EU Commission, 13 July 2010

'Curry for sheep could curb global warming'
Research has found that coriander and turmeric - spices traditionally used to flavour curries - can reduce the amount of methane produced by sheep by up to 40 per cent.

Working a bit like an antibiotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing ''bad'' bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the ''good'' bacteria to flourish.

The findings are part of a study by Newcastle University research student Mohammad Mehedi Hasan and Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry. More

Daily Telegraph, 6 July 2010

Innovative crop protection R&D may help farmers cope with new EU regulations
Over thirty innovative projects put forward by business led consortia from across agriculture and the crop protection industry are to receive support of over £13.5m from the Government to carry out applied research and development.

The investment, from the Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has been awarded to thirty two consortia in a recently concluded competition entitled ‘New Approaches to Crop Protection’ .

The projects will develop new technologies to help farmers and growers adapt to the specific challenges posed by recent changes to EU pesticide regulations that threaten the withdrawal of a number of key crop protection products, as well as supporting the broader aims of the Technology Strategy Board’s recently established Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform (SAF IP). More

Farm Business, 1 July 2010

'Step-change' needed for green goal
The UK has been warned it will fail to meet legally binding targets to cut emissions over the next decade without a step-change in making electricity, homes, transport and agriculture greener. The recession has created the "illusion" that the UK is tackling climate change, but substantial declines in emissions are almost entirely the result of lower economic activity in the last year, the Committee on Climate Change's chairman Lord Turner said.

While greenhouse gases fell by 8.6% last year, only a fraction of that was the result of measures to tackle climate change such as renewable energy or making homes more energy efficient. The latest progress report from the Government's advisory committee reiterated the call it made last year for a step-change in the pace of efforts to drive down emissions to meet legally binding budgets to cut greenhouse gases. More

Aol News, 1 July 2010

Role of science in boosting efficiency underlined
THE boss of a Scottish agricultural research institute spoke about the role science can play in helping farmers to become more efficient.

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, chief executive of Edinburgh’s Moredun Foundation, said a properly funded research sector could deliver better breeding, improved feeding regimes and address endemic diseases to reduce unnecessary costs and boost output. More

Press & Journal, 29 June 2010

Agriculture’s next revolution - perennial grain - within sight
Earth-friendly perennial grain crops, which grow with less fertilizer, herbicide, fuel, and erosion than grains planted annually, could be available in two decades, according to researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Science.

Perennial grains would be one of the largest innovations in the 10,000 year history of agriculture, and could arrive even sooner with the right breeding programs, said John Reganold, a Washington State University Regents professor of soil science and lead author of the paper with Jerry Glover, a WSU-trained soil scientist now at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

Farm Business, 25 June 2010

Loss of bees could be 'a blow to UK economy'
If bees and other pollinators were to disappear completely, the cost to the UK economy could be up to £440m per year, scientists have warned. This amounts to about 13% of the country's income from farming.
In a bid to save the declining insects, up to £10m has been invested in nine projects that will explore threats to pollinators. The Insect Pollinators Initiative will look at different aspects of the insects' decline.
The initiative brings together specialists from a number of UK universities, as well as from the Food & Environment Research Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council's (Nerc) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

BBC News, 22 June 2010

EU urged to 'do more' to tackle global food crisis
TTop BBC journalist George Alagiah has urged Europe’s decision makers to do more to address the global food "crisis." The news anchor told a Brussels conference that the world needs to increase food production by 100 per cent by the year 2050 "in order to sustain itself."

He said, "As the world’s population continues to grow, and more and more households in emerging economies join the world’s middle class, the demand for animal protein is expected to double by 2050. More

The Parliament, 21 June 2010

Slash livestock numbers to eliminate emissions, says report
The UK's greenhouse gas emissions could be cut to zero by 2030 if livestock numbers were slashed by 80%, according to a report on the country's energy production.

The study, published by the Centre for Alternative Technology, says British agriculture could take steps to help eliminate emissions within 20 years, creating thousands of jobs and securing the countries energy supplies.

Farmers Weekly, 16 June 2010

Higher farm prices expected, food security concerns persist, say OECD, FAO
Farm commodity prices have fallen from their record peaks of two years ago but are unlikely to drop back to their average levels of the past decade, according to the annual joint report from the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-19 sees average wheat and coarse grain prices over the next 10 years between 15-40% higher in real terms (adjusted for inflation) than their average levels during the 1997-2006 period. Real prices for vegetable oils are expected to be more than 40% higher. Dairy prices are projected to be on average between 16-45% higher. More

Farm Business, 15 June 2010

Intensive farming 'massively slowed' global warming
Fertilisers, pesticides and hybrid high-yielding seeds saved the planet from an extra dose of global warming. That, at least, is the conclusion of a new analysis which finds that the intensification of farming through the green revolution has unjustly been blamed for speeding up global warming.

Steven Davis of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues calculated how much greenhouse gases would have been emitted over the past half-century if the green revolution had not happened.

New Scientist, 14 June 2010

Science budget must be protected says NFU
The government's need to slash spending to deal with the country's massive debts must not be allowed to further damage agricultural research, the NFU has warned.

Speaking at Cereals 2010 event in Cambridgeshire on Wednesday (9 June), union president Peter Kendall said the decline in research and development was compromising farmers' abilities to produce food and manage the environment.

And while farming could not expect significant investment in research when the budget deficit was so huge, any funding available had to be spent effectively. More

Farmers Weekly, 9 June 2010

Plant breeders call for new approach to R&D funding
NEW sources of investment and improved collaboration between public and private sector research is needed if crop yields are to meet food security goals into the future, the British Society of Plant Breeders warned ahead of Cereals 2010.

“Our expanding knowledge of plant genetics certainly opens up major new opportunities to develop crops with increased yields. But the investment needed to exploit this rapidly advancing knowledge base remains greater than commercial plant breeders can manage alone,” said BSPB chairman Nigel Moore.

The warning comes as BSPB publishes the findings of a major economic impact study, which suggests the annual contribution of plant breeding exceeds £1 billion in additional value within the UK farming and food supply chain, in addition to safeguarding an additional £1.2 billion of economic activity in the UK each year.

Farmers Guardian, 9 June 2010

Pesticide legislation needs a light touch
NFU vice-president Gwyn Jones has called on the new coalition government to treat pesticide legislation with a light touch to help farmers deliver a secure and sustainable food supply.

Speaking at Cereals 2010, Mr Jones said the Sustainable Use Directive, which covers on-farm use of pesticides, would be the first test of government support, with ministers now considering the results of a DEFRA industry-wide consultation.

“They said they would support the industry on this matter when in opposition – they now need to put that into practice,” said Mr Jones.

Farmers Weekly, 9 June 2010

Stakeholders welcome crop research centre plan but have questions over funding
A document assessing the viability of an applied crop research centre to replace the University of Warwick's Wellesbourne research station has been welcomed by stakeholders. Concerns have been raised, however, that funding issues have yet to be addressed.

The document outlines a potential model for the centre that would see up to eight key scientists supported by around 20 staff. According to the proposal: "The centre will be closely linked to the new (life sciences) school, providing the opportunity to translate some of the more fundamental crop-based research into industry and the commercial sector."

The potential areas of expertise proposed in the document include crop improvements and genetics, entomology and integrated pest management, waste management, crop physiology and agronomy, pathology, environmental accounting and plant nutrition. The document was introduced at a stakeholder meeting last week. More

Horticulture Week, 4 June 2010

FSA under pressure to abandon GM debate
THE Food Standards Agency (FSA) is coming under pressure to abandon its plans for a national GM debate, following the resignation of another member of the project’s steering group.
Professor Brian Wynne, a sociologist at Lancaster University and an expert on public engagement with science, became the second person to quit over claims of FSA ‘bias’ towards the GM industry.

Farmers Guardian, 3 June 2010

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet
A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.
As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

The Guardian, 2 June 2010

Extreme droughts to be 'more common'
Britain is heading for water shortages and crop failures as extreme droughts like that of 1976 become more frequent, experts have warned. A Met Office study on how climate change could affect the frequency of extreme droughts in the UK has found they will become more common by 2100, and to put the droughts in context, conditions seen in 1976 were used as a benchmark - one of the worst droughts on record. More

The Independent, 27 May 2010

Fungus threatens world wheat production
Scientists have warned that the global supply of wheat could be under threat from a new strain of fungus capable of destroying an entire harvest. The UG99 fungus is already endemic in Kenya, where it's destroyed about 80 per cent of the wheat crop over several seasons. The reddish-brown wind-borne pathogen was discovered a decade ago in east Africa. More

ABC Rural, 27 May 2010

Crisis may be over for honey bees as more survive winter
More honey bee colonies made it through this winter than last year despite the harsh conditions, the British Beekeepers' Association says today. But while there was a "small and encouraging improvement" in survival rates this year, the UK's honey bees are still not healthy enough, the organisation's president Martin Smith warns.
According to figures collected by the BBKA, 17 per cent of colonies across the UK were lost over the winter. However there were significant regional variations, with losses of more than a quarter of colonies (26 per cent) in the north of England compared to just 12.8 per cent in the South-west. In 2008-09, 19 per cent of colonies did not make it through the winter, while "disastrous" losses in 2007-08 saw 30 per cent die.

The Independent, 24 May 2010

DEFRA approves GM potato trial
Following a public consultation, DEFRA has given approval to the Sainsbury Laboratory to conduct a research trial this year of GM potatoes.  The research is on potatoes that have been genetically modified to resist late potato blight.

The Sainsbury Laboratory application has been evaluated by the independent expert group the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE).  It is satisfied that the proposed trial will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment.

In line with ACRE’s advice, precautionary conditions have been attached to the statutory consent for the trial.  These aim to ensure that GM potato material does not persist at the trial site.  The harvested GM potatoes will not be used for food or animal feed. More

Farm Business, 24 May 2010

Scots scientists scour barley strains for genetic benefits
SCOTTISH cereal plant breeders are checking up on some of the country's oldest strains of barley to see if they have any useful genes that can be used in more modern cultivars.

Bere barley is a Scottish landrace form of barley which is nowadays only grown in a few parts of the north and west of the country, such as Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides. It is a spring six-row barley that is quite unusual in a UK context and the overall acreage grown is quite small.

Now work at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, at Invergowrie, under barley plant geneticist Dr Luke Ramsay, is looking at possible benefits from bere’s background.

The Scotsman, 21 May 2010

'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists
Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first living cell to be controlled entirely by synthetic DNA. The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

BBC News, 20 May 2010

EU told to invest more in agricultural research
The EU has been urged to invest more on agricultural research, which it has been accused of “neglecting” in recent years. The demand comes in a new report which also calls for more “efficient use” of agricultural land in the EU to prevent “land-grabbing” outside its borders. The report, “EU agricultural production and trade,” comes as a major commission review of the much-criticised Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) gets underway. More

The Parliament, 17 May 2010

EU pesticide rules pose challenge for developing countries, says CPA
By restricting the use of key crop protection tools, new EU rules on pesticide approvals could have a significant impact on the future development of agriculture and food production in developing countries such as South Africa, says the Crop Protection Association.

That was the central message delivered in a keynote speech by Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the UK CPA, to a large gathering of senior representatives from the crop protection, agriculture and food production industries in Johannesburg last week. More

Farm Business, 14 May 2010

Coalition plans a key energy role for farming
Farmers could be given a key role as energy producers under plans unveiled by Britain's fledgling coalition government. Ambitious plans to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion were announced ahead of the appointment of Tory MP Caroline Spelman as DEFRA secretary. The coalition agreement reached by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats includes a pledge to fulfil joint ambitions to create a low-carbon economy. More

Farmers Weekly, 13 May 2010

New study finds organic could be worse for biodiversity
CONVENTIONAL farming is better for the environment than organic farming when food yields are taken into account, according to a controversial new study released today (Wednesday, May 5).

The two year study by Prof Tim Benton, conservation expert at the University of Leeds, asked which production methods could increase food yields with the least impact on biodiversity.

With UN estimates that production must increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed a growing population, experts around the world are desperately searching for the most environmentally friendly options. More

Farmers Guardian, 5 May 2010

Paper reveals EU plan to boost GM crop cultivation
BRUSSELS Europe faces a major overhaul in the way it deals with genetically modified (GM) crops, after the European Commission sparked controversy with new plans to circumvent its cumbersome legislative review process.

The EU executive wants to let national governments decide whether or not to grow genetically modified crops without a long drawn-out review of the bloc's current GM legislation, an initial impact assessment seen by Reuters showed.

Details of the plan, which would open the door to widespread GM cultivation in Europe, provoked a furious reaction from environmentalists already angry at the EU executive's decision to approve the commercial growing of a GM potato in March. More

Reuters, 3 May 2010

RASE report draws attention to “broken links” between science
and practice
Over the last 25 years UK government policy has tended to separate science and practice to the extent that the partnership between scientists and practical farmers, one which has underpinned agricultural success for nearly two centuries, is now under serious threat.

This is the key message delivered in a report published by the Royal Agricultural Society of England and written by the chairman of RASE's Practice with Science Committee, Professor David Leaver. The report is to be circulated to each of the main political parties during the election campaign.

RASE, 26 April 2010

Dairying blamed for 4% of greenhouse gas
Dairy farming accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a United Nations report. The study, which covers the global dairy business, was published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Samuel Jutzi, director of the FAO's animal production and health division, said the report covered everything from nomadic herds to milk processing plants. "This report is fundamental to understand and identify opportunities for reducing the environmental impact of the dairy sector."

Farmers Weekly, 22 April 2010

UN based policy of doubling food production on ‘flawed data’
A declaration that global food production needs to double to feed the world by the middle of this century provoked shock when it was announced by the UN food chief. It has since become a founding pillar of food policy, cited by leading British politicians and government scientists, farming leaders and some of the world's biggest agricultural companies.

But the source of the now infamous statistic did not actually say that, claims a new report by the Soil Association, the UK's leading organic group. The study, entitled "The big fat lie about doubling food production", traced the original source of the doubling claim back to a report published by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2006. However, using the FAO's own figures, the Soil Association says the forecast increase needed in production would be closer to 70% by 2050. More

The Guardian, 21 April 2010

Internet grows as farm business tool
Some 56% of all farmers are online and an increasing number are using the internet to purchase farm inputs, according to the study by the National Farm Research Unit (NFRU).

They found that 57% of growers are now using the internet, with 47% saying they had gone online to get information about farm inputs. Some 40% said they had bought some farm inputs online. The trend is for more farmers to seek information online, with 42% doing so four years ago. Using the internet for purchasing farm inputs is increasing, with just 17% buying farm inputs online four years ago.

Farmers Weekly, 19 April 2010

Defra approves GM potato trial
THE Government has approved a second application from British scientists to plant GM potatoes in a field trial at the University of Leeds. In effect the researchers have been given the green light to continue their research on a pest resistant potato that started in 2008.

They say the genetic technology, to resist infection by potato cyst nematodes, could save British growers up to £40 million a year. More

Farmers Guardian, 8 April 2010

Flowers bloom earlier as UK warms
British plants are flowering earlier now than at any time in the last 250 years, according to new analysis. Researchers stitched together nearly 400,000 first flowering records covering 405 species across the nation.

Writing in the journal Proceedings B, they show that the average first flowering date has been earlier in the last 25 years than in any other period. Flowering dates are closely linked to temperatures recorded in the Central England Temperature Record.

BBC News, 7 April 2010

Research identifies energy savings for dairy farmers
Morrisons has collaborated with leading scientists and dairy farmers to produce the UK dairy industry’s first independent guide to using environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.

Experts from Newcastle University believe renewable energy forms, such as wind turbines, light energy PV panels and anaerobic digestion, could help dairy farmers cut electricity bills by as much as 30%, a yearly saving of over £3000 on a typical dairy farm.

‘Renewable energy and energy efficiency options for UK dairy farms’ is the latest report to come from the Morrisons Farm Programme, a long term initiative with a strong research focus aimed at helping develop a sustainable British farming industry.

Farm Business, 1 April 2010

All-Party Group focuses on UK agri-food research targets and needs
Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, has announced plans for a major report later this year on UK agri-food research targets and needs.

Presenting the All-Party Group’s second Annual Report, Ms Kennedy welcomed the strong policy emphasis over the past year on the measures needed to secure future food supplies. Government, NGOs, policy think-tanks and scientific institutions were as one in highlighting the importance of agricultural research in helping farmers become more resource efficient – producing more, using less.

However, she warned that public sector research funding had to deliver a demonstrable return on investment through practical improvement on the ground if the objectives set out in the Government’s recent Food 2030 Strategy were to be achieved.

Farm Business, 29 March 2010

All-Party Group highlights threat to horticultural research at Warwick HRI
An influential cross-party grouping of MPs and Lords is calling for an independent review of the potential impact on the UK’s agricultural science base of the planned merger between Warwick HRI and the University of Warwick’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, and herself a former Defra Minister, has this week written to Environment Secretary Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP and University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift, to express the Group’s concern that the merger places the internationally renowned Warwick HRI site at Wellesbourne under threat of closure. More

Farm Business, 26 March 2010

Jane Kennedy leads fight for Warwick HRI
FORMER Farming Minister Jane Kennedy has warned that a merger involving the UK’s leading horticulture research facility could damage the UK’s food science base.

Ms Kennedy has asked Defra Secretary Hilary Benn to intervene in the planned merger between Warwick Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) and the University of Warwick’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Ms Kennedy, who will step down as an MP at the General Election, is acting in her capacity as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture. More

Farmers Guardian, 26 March 2010

Pressure mounts on Defra's Hilary Benn over Warwick HRI
Pressure is mounting on Defra secretary Hilary Benn to review the impact of changes at the Wellesbourne site on the UK's ability to meet the Government's food strategy.

A call has gone out from researchers at the University of Warwick to halt the redundancy process taking place as part of the planned merger of Warwick HRI with its department of biological sciences to create a new school of life sciences.

In addition, former Defra food and farming minister Jane Kennedy has this week tabled an early day motion on the threat to horticultural research at Warwick HRI. She is also writing directly to Benn and University of Warwick vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift in her role as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture. More

Horticulture Week, 26 March 2010

Food and farm waste can help power the nation, says Benn
Businesses and local authorities are being offered help to turn food, farm and other organic waste into energy and fuel.

Defra has published a plan to boost biogas production from anaerobic digestion to help tackle climate change and produce renewable energy.

‘Accelerating the Uptake of Anaerobic Digestion in England: an Implementation Plan’ sets out actions to help businesses, local authorities, farmers and food producers to adopt the technology, which transforms organic material like manure and waste food into fuel. More

Farm Business, 25 March 2010

UN body to look at meat and climate link
UN specialists are to look again at the contribution of meat production to climate change, after claims that an earlier report exaggerated the link. A 2006 report concluded meat production was responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions - more than transport.

The report has been cited by people campaigning for a more vegetable-based diet, including Sir Paul McCartney. But a new analysis, presented at a major US science meeting, says the transport comparison was flawed. More

BBC News, 24 March 2010

Food policy advisors recommend "focus on power of consumer"
The Council of Food Policy Advisors has published its second report to the Government, recommending that efforts to promote healthy diets and environmentally sustainable food production should focus on the power of consumer demand to bring about change.

“Food: a recipe for a healthy, sustainable, and successful future” also calls for a debate about land use in the United Kingdom in order to find the best way to balance the needs of agriculture with other demands such as housing, energy and infrastructure.

In addition the Council highlighted the importance of the food sector in economic strategies, as well as the need for continued research and development across the entire food chain. More

Farm Business, 16 March 2010

Mega-dairies: Farming solution or big problem?
The plan for Britain's first "factory farm" for cows has stirred up the debate on the future of farming in Europe. Similar "feedlot" dairies are commonplace in the U.S., but plans for a complex housing up to 8,100 cows in England is the first proposal on such a large scale in Western Europe. It is still far from clear whether they will be accepted on a continent increasingly obsessed with where its food comes from.

There's a certain irony in the timing: Nocton Dairies has submitted its application to open the huge industrial dairy just as the anti-industrial farming movie "Food Inc." opens in cinemas across the UK.

CNN, 16 March 2010

Research partnership to develop improved crops for food security
A new research initiative has been launched to accelerate the development of improved crops with higher yields and consistent, high quality products.

The £6M Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC) is led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the UK’s largest public funder of agri-food research and includes the Scottish Government and 13 companies representing plant breeders, farmers and food processors.

Farm Business, 11 March 2010

Government launches food security project
THE Government has announced a joined-up approach between public bodies to tackle global food shortages. The Global Food Security project, launched today (Thursday, March 11), will coordinate research and policy between Government departments, research bodies and executive agencies.

Speaking at the project launch Professor John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific advisor, said a joined-up approach was necessary to avert ‘a full food security crisis in the future’. More

Farmers Guardian, 11 March 2010

Tories unveil five-point plan for farming R&D
The Tories have unveiled a five-point plan to boost farming research and development. Lord Taylor, the Conservative spokesman in the House of Lords, set out the plans at the opening of a new research unit at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire.

The party's priority, if elected, would be to promote private-sector investment in agricultural research. The existing DEFRA budget would have a new emphasis on R&D and would be bolstered by a broader source of funding, Lord Taylor said. He also pledged to re-invigorate applied research with greater representation from the food and farming industry on the committees where decisions would be taken on public-sector research. More

Farmers Weekly, 10 March 2010

Perfect peas to push profits and cut carbon
Scientists, pea breeders and the food industry are collaborating to discover how taste and tenderness can be determined by biochemistry and genetics. They will work together to hone the make-up of a perfect pea.

In a £1.5M, 3.5-year project coordinated from the John Innes Centre, the project partners will find new ways to develop improved pea varieties for the high profit margin food market. They will also study the likely impact of greater uptake of legume farming on nitrogen fertiliser use. More

Farm Business, 8 March 2010

Intensive agriculture is the green option
A WELSH think-tank has recommended intensive dairy, beef and sheep farming as the best way to reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The report published today (Friday, March, 5) recommends an especially radical approach to dairy and beef farming where the nation’s cattle herd would remain housed and its methane emissions captured and used as fuel. By 2040 the report says agriculture and land use sectors could make substantial progress to carbon neutrality.

Farmers Guardian, 5 March 2010

GM potato cleared for EU farming
The European Commission has cleared the way for a genetically modified potato to be grown in the EU - only the second GM product it has allowed.
The Amflora potato can be utilised for animal feed and industrial uses - such as its starch being used to make paper - but not for human consumption.

BBC News, 2 March 2010

Future of Wellesbourne to be considered by stakeholders
Options for the future of Wellesbourne research station will be tabled during a stakeholder discussion at the University of Warwick next week.

Although the university's senate approved draft proposals for Warwick HRI Wellesbourne to be absorbed into a new School of Life Sciences last year, a new paper exploring an industry partnership will be presented at the meeting on 2 March.

The business plan is being finalised by a group of scientists at Warwick HRI in collaboration with Brian Jamieson, author of A Review of the Provision of Horticultural R&D. More

Farm Business, 25 February 2010

Study finds conditions tough for agrochemical innovation
A new study of Research and Development in the crop protection sector shows that, in a decade, the costs associated with the discovery, development and registration of new crop pest and disease agents have increased by 68.4 per cent to €189m.

The research, conducted by agribusiness consultant Phillips McDougall and commissioned by Crop Life America and the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), sheds new light on the costs of agrochemical innovation encountered by major R&D driven companies. More

Farm Business, 25 February 2010

Innovation key to agriculture’s future says Environment Agency chief
GM crops and new technologies to support ‘precision farming’ could both have a role to play in helping the UK cope with climate change, Environment Agency Chairman Lord Smith says in his speech to the NFU conference today.

Lord Smith tells farmers that climate change “will create new demands on land and environmental resources” and “could provide opportunities for novel crops and systems.” More

Farm Business, 24 February 2010

Global GM plantings rise
PLANTINGS of GM crops rose by seven per cent last year, as farmers around the world continued to turn to technology to boost crop yields.

According to new figures released today by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), 14 million farmers in 25 countries are now growing 134 million hectares of GM crops around the world. More

Farmers Guardian, 24 February 2010

Biofuel breakthrough on non-food crops
MOTORISTS could soon be running their cars on affordable ethanol produced from wheat straw or woodchips after a biofuel breakthrough.

Current methods of converting agricultural by-products into ethanol are too expensive to consider at a commercial level, while biofuels produced from food crops have been blamed for pushing up commodity prices and leaving the world’s poorest people short of food. But a Danish biotechnology company, Novozymes, says it has cultivated a new enzyme that could convert maize, wheat, straw and woodchips into ethanol for as little as 32 pence per litre. More

Farmers Guardian, 23 February 2010

BCPC calls for multi-pronged approach to the ‘Crop Protection Crunch’
The British Crop Production Council has warned that the EU Pesticide legislation (EC 1107/2009) will seriously affect the industry and that a coordinated approach will be needed to address the challenges.

The Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (2009/127/EC) and the Water Framework Directive will create an additional burden.

“We must get the message out about the negative impact that all this legislation will have on the production of good quality, nutritional food, at affordable prices – a ‘Crop Protection Crunch’,” says Dr Colin Ruscoe, Chairman of BCPC.

“We need to inform the whole of the food chain from producers to retailers and the general public, as well as finding ways to help food producers deal with the impact. And if we are going to make further attempts at regulatory reform, both in the UK and EU, continued lobbying of government will be crucial.”

Farm Business, 18 February 2010

Dairy industry sets out demands for MPs
The next government needs to combat bovine tuberculosis as a priority if the future of the dairy industry is to be secured. Dairy UK said farmer confidence and milk output needed to be improved by urgently tackling TB in cattle.

Setting out a blueprint of what the industry needs if it is to prosper, Dairy UK said government also needed to increase research and development to increase productivity and secure food supplies. More

Farmers Weekly, Wednesday 17 February 2010

Defra considers GM potato trial
THE Government is considering an application from British scientists to plant GM potatoes in a field trial in Norwich.

Scientists in the Sainsbury’s Laboratory at the John Innes Centre hope to get approval from Defra in order to start their three-year trial in May.

The researchers aim to genetically modify a potato resistant to blight – a disease estimated to cost the global potato industry £3.5 billion every year. Blight resistance would also save farmers from spraying fungicide on the potatoes, the scientists said. More

Farmers Guardian, 17 February 2010

£15M scheme to train hundreds in vital food security R&D
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is committing up to £15M to establish training for food security research and development.

The Advanced Training Partnerships scheme is announced at the same time as the launch of the new industry-led AgriSkills Strategy, which is being launched by Lantra (the sector skills council for environmental and land- based industries) and NFU with support from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The AgriSkills Strategy aims to ensure the UK can equip itself with the right skills to enable a profitable and sustainable agricultural industry for the future and is complementary to the new BBSRC scheme. More

Farm Business, 11 February 2010

Biofuel breakthrough as scientists sequence grass genome
SCIENTISTS in the US have completed sequencing the genome of a wild grass which they claim will shed light on the genetics behind hardier varieties of wheat and improved varieties of biofuel crops.

The grass - Brachypodium distachyon - can be used by plant scientists as a model organism similar to key agricultural crops, including wheat and barley. The genome is also similar to the potential bioenergy crop switchgrass, allowing researchers to identify genes linked to specific traits and apply the knowledge to the development of biofuel crops. More

Farmers Guardian, 11 February 2010

Culling badgers ‘not a cost-effective way to stop TB'
Culling badgers is unlikely to be a cost-effective way of combating TB in cattle, according to latest research into controlling the disease.

A study published by scientists from Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London says that, while widespread badger culls initially cut the incidence of bovine TB, any benefits disappear within four years of the cull being carried out. The financial costs of administering trapping and killing badgers also means any savings made in cutting herd infections are cancelled out, the study says.

Farmers Weekly, 10 February 2010

Climate change could bring new disease threat
GREATER vigilance is needed as climate change alters the seasonality of endemic infections and the likely appearance of formerly unseen parasites, warned vet scientists at a North West Livestock Health and Welfare Conference held at Liverpool University’s vet school.

Jan van Dijk said work he was involved in at the vet school to monitor temperature and rainfall changes showed disease patterns had already begun to alter. Data already suggests fluke has risen significantly in recent years, although this masks regional variations as parasites react and adapt to changes in localised weather conditions, he said. More

Farmers Guardian, 9 February 2010

Defra seeks views on new EU pesticides rules
A consultation on how to implement new European rules on pesticides was launched today, and seeks people’s views on how to ensure the continued sustainable use of pesticides.

The consultation is seeking views on how to implement the European Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which covers areas including the training of pesticide users, inspection of spraying equipment and minimising the risk of pollution from pesticides. The consultation also puts forward options on access to information about pesticides used near homes, and how people could be given the option to obtain this information. More

Farm Business, 9 February 2010

Britain facing food crisis as world's soil 'vanishes in 60 years'
British farming soil could run out within 60 years, leading to a catastrophic food crisis and drastically higher prices for consumers, scientists warn.

Fertile soil is being lost faster than it can be replenished and will eventually lead to the “topsoil bank” becoming empty, an Australian conference heard. Chronic soil mismanagement and over farming causing erosion, climate change and increasing populations were to blame for the dramatic global decline in suitable farming soil, scientists said.

Daily Telegraph, 3 February 2010

Food security central to £2 billion bioscience plan
THE Government will pump more than £2 billion of taxpayers’ money into biological research as part of a new strategy to meet global challenges such as food security and fossil fuel depletion. The Government-funded Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has drawn up a strategic plan to spend its annual £450 million budget over the next five years. Food security will be one of three key priorities for the money, alongside health and renewable energy. More

Farmers Guardian, 2 February 2010

Scientists create GM tomatoes 'which stay fresh for a month longer than usual'
Scientists have created genetically modified tomatoes which stay fresh for a month longer than usual. The fruits remained firm for 45 days, three times as long as normal tomatoes which start to wilt after just 15 days, researchers said.

The team believe that the breakthrough could also lead to an extended shelf life for other fruits, including bananas, and see the cost of their production tumble. They lengthened the life of the tomatoes by “turning off” genes linked to the production of two enzymes which cause the fruit to start to ripen.

Daily Telegraph, 2 February 2010

Food science: Rewards of precision farming
The technological battle to raise agricultural productivity while reducing the environmental impact of farming is taking place across a broad front. Genetic engineering of crops receives the most publicity, as much because it is so controversial as because it has the most to offer, but there are many other promising approaches.

Precision farming – the use of information technology to monitor crops and guide the application of seeds and agricultural chemicals – is turning individual farmers into expert agronomists.

Financial Times, 26 January 2010

Lack of GMOs costs lives, claims leading scientist
Many human lives have been lost due to the reluctance of some countries to accept genetically modified crops, former government chief scientific adviser, Sir David King has claimed.

Addressing the annual City Food Lecture in London's Guildhall this week, Sir David cited the example of flood-resistant rice which had taken over five years to develop using conventional breeding techniques and genetic markers, when it could have been done in two using GM technology. The drop in rice production in 2007, due to flooding just after planting, was a major factor behind the price hike in 2008 that led to food riots and starvation in some parts of the world, he said.

Farmers Weekly, 20 January 2010

Farm emissions 'far higher than thought'
Livestock farming accounts more than half of all agricultural greenhouse emissions, according to a new report. The study, by WWF-UK and the Food Climate Research Network, estimates the food we eat accounts for 30% of the UK's carbon footprint. Previous estimates put the figure closer to 20%, but this latest study is the first to incorporate the impact of land use changes overseas. More

Farmers Weekly, 18 January 2010

Plant could save millions from malaria
Scientists from the University of York have confidently predicted they will have high-yielding anti-malaria crops available for wide spread plantation in developing countries within two years. The discovery of the genetic map of the medicinal herb Artemisia annua has been hailed as a significant breakthrough that could save countless lives. More

Daily Telegraph, 15 January 2010

GM crops to be planted in Britain again this year
A new wave of genetically modified (GM) crops are to be planted in the British countryside this year as the Government increases its support for the technology. Leeds University, where a successful trial was carried out last year, is to apply for a licence for a new field trial of GM potatoes.

Meanwhile the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) want to plant GM crops on a demonstration farm as part of a new drive to boost public understanding of the latest developments in plant breeding. More

Daily Telegraph, 11 January 2010

McDonald’s seeks to cut cows’ methane emissions
McDonalds has long been the butt of jokes about what goes into its burgers, but now it is to spend thousands of pounds investigating what comes out of its beef cows.

The fast food chain, which uses beef from 350,000 cattle a year for its burger meat, is to conduct a three-year study into methane emissions from cattle on 350 farms across Britain. More

The Observer, 10 January 2010

'Climate change resistant crops' move nearer after gene breakthrough

In a breakthrough that has the potential to help feed billions of people, scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich have found the "thermometer gene" which plants use to sense temperature.

Laboratory tests on a mustard seed plant showed that the gene that plants use in order to know when to grow in the warmer months can be manipulated by taking away a histone protein. More

Daily Telegraph, 8 January 2010

UK research 'not good enough'
EXPERTS from across the food chain have valued agricultural research in the UK at a lowly five out of ten, delegates were shocked to learn at the Oxford Farming Conference this week.

In a survey carried out by the IGD, a select group of retailers, processors and wholesalers warned a failure to improve research would cause a rise in food prices, a rise in imports and an erosion of the UK’s competitive advantage. More

Farmers Guardian, 7 January 2010

Business as usual won't feed the world
A "business as usual" approach to increasing food production would be useless against the challenge of feeding a growing world population.

John Parker, globalisation correspondent for The Economist, told delegates that agriculture needed to achieve the kind of technological breakthroughs in plant breeding and livestock development last seen in the 1960s and 70s.

"The UN predicts a world population of around 9bn by 2050 - that's about 30% more people to feed. And for a 30% population increase, world wheat yields will need to increase by the same amount over the next 20 years." More

Farmers Weekly, 6 January 2010

Government science strategy launched
The Government’s chief scientific adviser has launched a new science strategy designed to help improve the security and sustainability of the UK’s food system. The strategy, launched by Professor John Beddington at the Oxford Farming Conference today (Wednesday, January 6), will aim to ensure research into various elements of food production is better co-ordinated across the scientific community.

The strategy is intended to feed into the new Government food strategy, Food 2030, launched by Defra Secretary Hilary Benn on Tuesday (January 5). The Food and Innovation Research Strategy provides an overarching framework across the UK Government and Devolved Administrations. More

Farmers Guardian, 6 January 2010

Investment in research vital
Britain's farming industry will be seriously threatened and the government's Food 2030 strategy risks being undermined without better investment in agricultural science.

Crop protection was cited as the most important past advancement by 29% of farmers who put it top of a list compiled during research specially commissioned by the Oxford Farming Conference.

It was followed by plant breeding and machinery. Plant breeding scored 18% as the most important future development with GM technology scoring 15%. But one in four farmers remains unsure what scientific advancements are needed.

Farmers Weekly, 6 January 2010

Consumers can help secure Britain’s food future
Ensuring food security is just as important to Britain’s future as energy supply, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn told delegates at the Oxford Farming Conference today as he unveiled the Government’s food strategy, Food 2030.

Farming and food businesses contribute more than £80 billion to the economy and represent the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, employing 3.6 million people.

The Food Strategy sets out the challenges facing Britain in maintaining a secure food supply at a time of rapid population growth and climate change, and following the big price increases seen in 2008 following droughts and the rise in the price of oil. More

Defra News Release, 5 January 2010

UK Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation
A new science strategy to help improve the security and sustainability of our food system has been launched today by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Professor John Beddington.

The UK Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation aims to provide the evidence to support effective, joined-up policies, and ensure the development and dissemination of new knowledge, technologies and skills.

The UK has a world leading science base which can contribute significantly to the new Government food strategy, Food 2030, which sets out a clear vision for achieving a sustainable and secure food system. More

BIS News Release, 5 January 2010

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