BCPC (British Crop Production Council) has welcomed the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) consultation within its proposed Strategic Plan for 2010 – 2015, particularly in terms of one of its key strategic priorities – Food Security.
Global demand for food, resulting from population growth, increasing affluence and dietary transition, will need to increase by an estimated 50% by 2030 and double by 2050 to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on hunger. To address these issues requires a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach which BBSRC is looking to lead on in a major cross-funder research programme in Food Security.
“BBSRC is to be congratulated on producing a strategy that demonstrates significant and appropriate step change from its previous stance. It is now clearly recognising the current importance of UK food production and the need to support its agricultural science base” says Dr Colin Ruscoe, chairman of BCPC. “We are particularly keen that there should be further emphasis on scientific research into crop production and crop protection relevant to the food security priorities. For example, we have expressed the need to support “lower-tech” science in order to bring about shorter term improvements in agriculture and solve current and near-future problems.”
Within the translational research element, BCPC would also like to see further emphasis on collaboration with industry and levy boards – for example, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) should be a partner in ‘translational’ research.
However, as Dr Ruscoe points out, “Apart from carbon emissions, soil quality and reducing inputs, there is little mention in the strategy of mitigating the negative environmental impacts of agriculture in relation to global warming, energy use, or effects on biodiversity.
We are nevertheless encouraged to see the direction BBSRC is taking, with its increased focus on strong basic plant science – with direct mention of crop protection and production – and the intention to accelerate translation of research into practice.”
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