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New NIAB chief executive applauds NFU call to back food security research

01 October 2008

Dr Tina Barsby, recently appointed chief executive of Cambridge-based National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB), has welcomed calls at the Conservative Party Conference from NFU President Peter Kendall for a fundamental shift in UK spending on agricultural research to meet emerging challenges of food security and climate change.

“On a global basis, demand for food is now beginning to outstrip supply. In the world’s richer nations, that translates into higher food prices. In poorer countries, it means hunger and malnutrition,” said Dr Barsby.

“With limited scope to bring more land into agricultural production, the only realistic prospect of meeting the world’s future food needs is through continued growth in productivity – in other words producing more crop per hectare.

“At crop research institutes such as NIAB, we have the scientific knowledge and expertise to speed the development of higher-yielding, more climate-resilient crops. Already NIAB scientists are involved in collaborative research which could boost cereal yields by as much as 30% in drought-hit regions of the world.”    

“But organisations like NIAB also need the confidence of long-term, strategic investment in such research, especially translational work to transform basic plant science into innovative products of value to farmers and consumers.”

“Any reduction in research expenditure is disastrously at odds with the world’s increasing demand for food and global imperatives to increase food production efficiency,” she said.

For details of NFU Peter Kendall’s comments to a joint NFU/Natural England fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference, please see www.nfuonline.com/x31172.xml

Issued by: Daniel Pearsall, Front Foot Communications
Telephone: 01487 831425 Email: daniel.pearsall@frontfoot.uk.com

Further information is available from Dr Tina Barsby