NFU Scotland has serious concerns regarding the future direction of agricultural, environmental and land-based research in Scotland if Scottish Government proposals are put into practice.
NFU Scotland Vice-President
In responding to the Scottish Government consultation on the Co-ordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science (CAMERAS), NFU Scotland has criticised the proposal for being too focussed on political aspirations around climate change and the environment rather than the requirements of the food and farming sectors.
Instead, NFU Scotland is calling for CAMERAS to deliver a more balanced Scottish scientific base covering a wider range of policy issues to include farming systems, disease diagnostics and epidemiology (animal and plant), genetics, agricultural and resource economics, food supply chains, rural development, animal welfare sciences, soil sciences, water environment sciences, and biodiversity expertise.
NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller said:
“We can understand the importance of targeting research resources and making best use of what will always be limited funding. However, allowing a purely political or ‘popular’ agenda to drive research priorities is ill conceived and will not provide for practical solutions or worthy policy measures that will deliver meaningful outcomes.
“Politics is reactive and often centred on solving existing or historic problems - science is about addressing the problems of the future and driving change for the good. The CAMERAS proposals are based on a limited view of the science base in Scotland, solely to underpin policy-based outcomes. That lack of vision threatens Scotland’s future capability and may well impact on our world-renowned research institutions.
“Over-arching themes such as climate change are vitally important, but they must be balanced by priorities such as food production and food security as other major drivers of the research agenda. The implications of a changing climate will evolve steadily over several decades. The imbalance between demand and supply of food could become more marked.
“At the same time, both climate change and food production will hinge on developing the science relating to issues such as nutrition, soil fertility, water quality, disease diagnosis and control, and genetics. This collective of ‘biotechnology’ research could address the concerns of today and provide the platform for a prosperous economy tomorrow. Across a range of scientific activities, there is both a need and great opportunity for Scotland to translate discoveries from the most appropriate biotechnology into tools and systems that will sustain economic growth and other social and environmental benefits.
“That said, in developing any programmes of research that might follow, there is a real need for a balance that gives strong emphasis on the attainment of ‘sustainable economic growth’, bearing in mind that this is the Scottish Government’s own number one priority. To achieve this, programmes must bring forward scientific knowledge that will drive a vibrant, productive agricultural and rural economy in harmony with environmental goals.”
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