Dr Tina Barsby, chief executive of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, has welcomed the call from Professor John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, for significant investment in scientific research to meet the world’s future food needs.
Speaking at the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference, Professor Beddington warned that the world is not growing enough food, and with just 38 or 39 days of food reserves available, he predicted further significant volatility in food prices, with the poorest hardest hit. Population growth, increasing urbanisation and changing diets, allied to the impact of climate change and problems of energy and water shortages, would create a ‘perfect storm’ by 2030.
Dr Barsby said: “Professor Beddington is right to point to the vital role of science in addressing the challenges of population growth and climate change. Only through continued progress in science and technology will the world meet its food needs – in particular through improvements in plant breeding and the development of higher-yielding, more climate resilient crop varieties. Plant science organisations such as NIAB have a key role to play in that process but, as Professor Beddington points out, it will require a renewed and significant commitment to long-term investment in agricultural research and development.”
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