06 Jan 2010   |   News

UK launches strategy for food research and innovation

A new science strategy to help improve the security and sustainability of the UK food system was launched this week.


A new science strategy to help improve the security and sustainability of the food system was launched this week by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington.

The UK Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation aims ensure the development and dissemination of new knowledge, technologies and skills, saying that delivering safe, affordable and nutritious food for a growing global population while ensuring sustainability and coping with climate change, will require a multi-disciplinary research approach.

One element of the plan will provide impetus to exploit opportunities in the European Research Area through co-ordination mechanisms such as ERA-NETs and Joint Programmes, and collaboration through the Framework Programme more generally.

Beddington said pressures on the food system are set to increase sharply in the decades ahead. “The UK must draw on the strengths in its science base and in industry to meet these challenges, and to exploit the opportunities for innovation and new markets that exist.”

The strategy, developed by a cross-government group under Beddington, includes the formation of a food security research programme, co-ordinated by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and delivered jointly with relevant Research Councils and government departments, and including close engagement with industry and the third sector.

Key aims include strengthening research coordination and partnerships, building a more integrated community of researchers, funders and users that extends across disciplines, organisations and sectors, to provide multi-disciplinary research to ensure a sustainable and secure food system.

In addition, the Technology Strategy Board will lead a new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation programme, co-funded by the Department of Agriculture and the BBSRC with up to £90 million over five years to fund research and development in areas such as crop productivity, sustainable livestock production, waste reduction and management, and greenhouse gas reduction.

There will also be a doubling of the overseas development investment in agriculture research to £80 million per year by 2013 to provide farmers in developing countries with access to technologies and to help national governments develop more effective agricultural policies, based on a robust evidence base.

Meanwhile, a Foresight study will look at the long-term ability of global food systems to feed a future world population of nine billion healthily and sustainably. This will report in October 2010.

A copy of the full report is available at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/GO-Science

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