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Foresight report highlights key role for agricultural science in addressing food security challenge

25 January 2011

NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby has welcomed the central conclusion in the Global Food and Farming Futures Foresight report that Governments around the world must increase investment in agricultural research and development to meet the food demands of a growing world population.

Dr Barsby called on the UK Government to lead the way in targeting funding for research to improve yields, disease-resistance and climate resilience of key crops, and to support the sustainable intensification of agriculture using the most advances technologies and practices.

The report, compiled by more than 400 leading experts and stakeholders over the past two years, and led by the Government’s chief scientist Professor Sir John Beddington, set out to investigate how a future global population of 9 billion people could be fed healthily and sustainably.

It concludes that agricultural innovation will play a key role and that every scientific tool must be considered, calling for a major injection of funds into agricultural research to reverse the declines of recent decades as successive Governments viewed farming as a low priority when food was in cheap and plentiful supply.

Dr Barsby said:

“The Foresight report is a major piece of work examining the pressures building up on the global food system – population growth, climate change, demographic and dietary shifts, resource depletion – and the measures needed to ensure food production, and especially crop yields, can keep pace affordably and sustainably. It calls for a major rethink in our attitudes towards the funding and application of new technologies and practices in agriculture.

“This is extremely welcome news for NIAB as a national crop research centre combining within a single resource the specialist knowledge, skills and facilities needed to support the development of improved crop varieties, to evaluate their performance and quality, and to ensure the benefits of those advances are transferred effectively on the ground.

“In recent years, NIAB has invested in a strategic development of the Institute’s capabilities to help revitalise the connection between the science base and practical agriculture, providing a unique resource to address key global challenges of food security, climate change and sustainable development.

“With an expanding crop research programme, leading edge scientific and advisory services, and unrivalled skills in seed and variety evaluation, NIAB is uniquely placed to build on its 90 year heritage and help address the urgent global need to produce more food with reduced impact on the environment,” she concluded.

For further information contact:
Dr Tina Barsby, chief executive, NIAB TAG
T: 01223 342280
M: 07711 845209
E: tina.barsby@niab.com

Issued by:
Daniel Pearsall, FrontFoot Communications
T: 01487 831425
M: 07770 875455
E: daniel.pearsall@frontfoot.uk.com