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'Better plants' investment is good news for farmers
11/01/07

The NFU has welcomed plans to invest £13m in UK plant research projects which aim to yield new crop varieties to help tackle future industry issues including climate change.

crop

Funding has been awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to 18 new projects which aim to solve real world issues.

The research will look at problems including how to grow crops able to cope with climate change, breed vegetables that remain nutritious after days in the fridge and grow biomass crops more effectively. The projects will use the latest knowledge of genetic information to create varieties of crops and vegetables which will meet specific challenges through selective breeding.

NFU vice-president Paul Temple said: “Investment in this area is crucial for the future of agriculture in the UK as we need smart scientific and technical solutions to the issues agriculture will be required to tackle.

“These new projects are genuinely exciting and demonstrate how important it is to ensure the UK puts adequate funding into science.

“It is now crucial to see this basic plant science translated into new commercially viable crop varieties to benefit the industry, consumers and the environment.”

Notes:

1. In order to speed up the breeding of new, improved varieties of plants it is necessary to know which genes control the desirable properties. These genes are identified and then selected for conventional breeding. This ensures a greater chance of getting the right gene into the new generation of plants and in this way is distinct from GM technology.

2. Research that will be funded include projects to:
- improve the shelf life of broccoli.
- increase the resistance of crops to insect pests as climate change brings new challenges.
- breed willow varieties to create the most efficient biomass.

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