Regular news updates on the group's activities and key developments in science and technology in agriculture.

Group News

Promotion of Innovation
House of Commons, BEIS Questions
September 2016

APPGSTA Annual Report 2015/16
July 2016

APPGSTA Income & Expenditure Statement
July 2016

APPGSTA Annual Report 2014/15
July 2015

Balancing the Debate - Mark Spencer article for New Statesman
March 2015

Agri-science MP concerned over axing of EU chief scientist role
News Release, 13 November 2014

APPGSTA Annual Report 2012/13
January 2014

The UK as a global hub of agricultural innovation: George Freeman presentation to Oxford Farming Conference, January 2014

VIDEO: MP hails agri-tech project

VIDEO: George Freeman MP explains the significance of the Agri-Tech Strategy

UK Agri-Tech Strategy published

22 July 2013


APPGSTA Annual Report 2011/12

December 2012


Progressive agriculture can still be sustainable, Farm Business article, November 2012


George Freeman MP hails £250m bio-economy boost

24 May 2012


House of Lords Debate -

Innovation in EU Agriculture

February 2012


APPGSTA Annual Report 2010/11

December 2011



Support for agricultural R&D is essential to deliver sustainable increases in UK food production, November 2010


2016 Archive


2015 Archive


2014 Archive


2013 Archive


2012 Archive


2011 Archive

2010 Archive

2009 Archive

2008 Archive

Science & Technology News


Growers desert oilseed rape amid neonicotinoids ban

The ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments is costing EU farmers more than £500m in lost revenue each year, a report has found.

The study, published by the EU’s Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture research consultancy, shows the ban has also shortened EU agricultural supply of OSR by 912,000t (-4%).

This production has been taken up in other parts of the world, such as the Americas, Ukraine and Australia where neonicotinoids banned in the UK and the EU remain widely used. more

Farmers Weekly, 18 January 2017 

Scientists uncover hidden wheat treasures

A team of scientists in the UK and USA have generated a new ground-breaking resource of ten million mutations in bread and pasta wheat varieties.

Researchers and breeders can search the public wheat database online to identify changes in their genes of interest and request seeds to improve the nutrition and production of wheat worldwide. They anticipate this will speed up the development of the wheat crop with highly sought-after traits, including disease resistance and increased yield.

Scientists from the Earlham Institute (EI, UK), the John Innes Centre (JIC, UK), Rothamsted Research (RRes, UK) and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis, USA), funded by BBSRC, USDA and HHMI, have catalogued ten million mutations by sequencing 400 billion bases of DNA from 2735 mutant wheat lines. These hidden mutations are likely to disrupt more than 90% of the pasta and bread wheat genes. more

BBSRC, 16 January 2017 

BBSRC BRAVO: optimising the performance of Brassica crops

January 2017 sees the launch of a new 5-year project BBSRC Brassica, Rapeseed and Vegetable Optimisation (BRAVO), funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Oilseed rape and Brassica vegetable crops have a combined UK market value in excess of £1Bn, but suffer yearly losses of up to £230M, primarily due to increasingly unfavourable and unpredictable weather patterns. BBSRC BRAVO aims to combat these crop losses by unravelling the processes that control key aspects of plant development.

This knowledge will then be applied to help develop new, more resilient varieties of Brassica crops that can achieve superior field performance whilst reducing yield loss and industry wastage. more

BBSRC, 13 January 2017 

Neonics unlikely to return, warns top Rothamsted scientist

A ban against neonicotinoids to control cabbage stem flea beetle in oilseed rape is likely to stay, a leading agricultural scientist has warned.

Lin Field, of Rothamsted Research, was speaking to agronomists at an annual conference organised by the Association of Independent Crop Consultants.

Her comments come days after it emerged the EU has delayed a review of its moratorium on neonicotinoids, including to control flea beetle in rape. more

Farmers Weekly, 11 January 2017

Neonics ban costs industry £500 million

The anticipated review of three neonicotinoid pesticides has been delayed by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) until autumn this year. It came as an EU report found the ban on the pesticides had cost farmers almost £500 million.

The EU food watchdog had been due to publish a re-evaluation of the scientific evidence of the safety of each pesticide – currently under EU restrictions – to bees this month. Efsa said it needed more time to consider the ’very large amount of information received during the call for data’. more

Farmers Guardian, 11 January 2017 

7.3 million tonnes of food wasted in UK in 2015

Consumers are being encouraged to waste less food, after new figures from WRAP show that £13 billion of edible food was needlessly thrown away from homes in 2015.

The latest results show that 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted, which if prevented, would have the environmental benefit of taking one in four cars off the road. more

Farm Business, 10 January 2017 

Weed control by robot

A research project part-funded by AHDB Horticulture is driving innovation in weed control and aims to reduce herbicide inputs for field vegetables by up to 95%.

Experts at University of Reading, Precision Farming Robotics Ltd, Concurrent Solutions llc and Knight Farm Machinery are developing the use of a cutting-edge automated spot herbicide ejector, ‘eyeSpot’, which will "point and shoot" metered droplets at individual leaves of unwanted plants in row crops.

The ejector will use an imaging system to distinguish weeds in field vegetable crops and will evaluate the dose of droplets required to kill those weeds at different growth stages. Herbicide droplets will then be accurately targeted to the leaves of the unwanted plants. more

Scottish Farmer, 7 January 2017 

Adjusting LED lights can improve crop quality, says research

Adjusting the light wavelengths and intensity of LED lighting can improve crop yields and quality, latest research findings show.

Research at the Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC), funded by AHDB Horticulture, has shown that by adjusting the quantity and quality of LED lighting, improvements in both the yields and the quality of ornamentals and other crops can be achieved, demonstrating that the benefits of growing with LEDs goes beyond simple energy savings.

The research at STC aims to gain a greater understanding about the underlying biology of plant responses to various lighting mixes and what this means in terms of plant morphology and speed of growth. more

Farming UK, 5 January 2017 

Brexit a ‘unique opportunity’ to rewrite crop protection rules

Brexit provides a “unique opportunity” for the UK government to base regulatory approaches to crop protection chemicals on robust risk assessment, the head of the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) has said.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Oxford Farming Conference, BCPC chairman Dr Colin Ruscoe said the sustainability of important plant protection products (PPPs) was under threat by the EU’s hazard-based approach to agrochemical approvals. more

Farmers Weekly, 4 January 2017 

Farm subsidies must refocus on environment, say MPs

Farm subsidies should be refocused after the UK leaves the EU to provide a better balance between support to agriculture and environmental protection, a report by an influential group of MPs has concluded.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said any new farm subsidies the government introduces to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) “should have clearly defined objectives linked the delivery of public goods”.

These include the promotion of biodiversity, preventing flooding and storing carbon “rather than simply providing income to support farmers”, said the report, The Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum. more

Farmers Weekly, 4 January 2017 

New method to capture plant disease-resistant DNA

Scientists have developed an improved method for capturing DNA, allowing better differentiation between similar resistance (R) genes which provide plants with immunity to disease.

Dr Matt Clark, head of technology development at the Norwich-based Earlham Institute and lead author of the study, said: “Wild relatives of crops contain a huge repertoire of novel genes that could be used to breed more resistant varieties that need less pesticide treatments.

“When it comes to identifying key genes it can be very difficult for researchers to find the exact resistance gene due to the sheer similarity of their DNA sequences. Typical sequencing methods use short reads but these are often too short to prise similar genes apart. In this study, we can identify the exact gene that confers resistance to a certain infection, and use it in breeding programmes.” more

Farmers Guardian, 26 December 2016 

Brexit uncertainty 'corrosive' for science

Uncertainty over the nature of the UK's future relationship with the EU is having a "corrosive" effect on science, a House of Lords report says.

The report highlights what it says is a "delay in solid reassurances" on Brexit and "mixed messages" from ministers.

The report welcomes the increase to science funding announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement. But it says bold steps are needed to ensure the UK continues to attract the best scientific talent. more

BBC News, 20 December 2016 

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