Scientists’ warning over animal health testing
Cuts to farm animal health surveillance
could risk new diseases going undetected and jeopardise
public health, the Royal College of Pathologists has warned.
The Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs’ plan to downsize its network of laboratories
and cut animal post-mortems “puts at risk” the health of
livestock, and means new and re-merging infections could be
missed, it said. It could also hit consumer confidence in a
livestock industry worth over £10billion, it warned.
Diseases may be transmitted to humans so
the health risks are shared by the public, it said. It
claimed DEFRA’s plans are not based on sound evidence and
East Anglian Daily Times, 9 December 2013
European Commission planning to
ban pesticides in EFAs
The farming and agrochemical industries
have urged the European Commission and Defra to refrain from
‘unnecessary restrictions on pesticide use’ as the CAP
reforms are implemented.
Under CAP greening rules, nitrogen fixing
crops will count towards Ecological Focus Areas. However,
the European Commission is ‘fully committed’ to prohibiting
pesticide use in EFAs, according to the Crop Protection
CPA chief executive Nick von Westenholz
said this was ‘typical of the sort of inflexible and overly
prescriptive view of pesticide use that is hampering
European farmers’ and urged Defra to recognise the ‘positive
role pesticides can play in sustainable production’ as it
implements the reforms.
Farmers Guardian, 5 December
octocopter crop-monitoring drone
Research is investing in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
technology to monitor crops and crop experiments as part of
its genetic improvement projects.
The research centre, based in
Hertfordshire, has obtained the high performance radio
remote-controlled "Octocopter" drone equipped with four
The custom-built equipment will enable
data collection from experimental crop plots at each of the
institute’s UK sites as well as at trial sites by
Farmers Weekly, 2 December 2013
Bayer boss slams EU approach on
The European Union must avoid
“non-science, knee-jerk reactions” that will only continue
to discourage investment in European agricultural research,
says the head of Bayer CropScience. Andrew Orme, Bayer’s
UK managing director, said EU regulation must be informed by
science to promote innovation and growth in agriculture,
rather than stifling it for “no good reason”.
Speaking at a European Liberal Democrat
conference in London this week, Mr Orme said: “Europe must
stop looking inwards. We are a global society; a society
that, by and large, understands the problems amassing. “It
really is time that the EU joined in and saw the political
opportunities that arise from this, rather than closing our
eyes and hoping that the problem will go away.”
Farmers Weekly, 30 November 2013
IBERS wins at the Times Higher Awards
Aberystwyth University's Institute of
Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) has won
the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology
category award at the Times Higher Education Awards.
Aberystwyth University's winning entry
focuses on the breeding and development of High Sugar
Grasses (AberHSG) by scientists at IBERS. AberHSG have the
potential to transform pastoral based livestock agriculture.
Independent tests have demonstrated that AberHSG can
increase the production of meat and milk by up to 24% and
reduce methane emissions and nitrogenous pollutants by up to
ASDA and Sainsbury's promote the use of
AberHSG on their farms, estimating a reduction of 186,000
tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, whilst raising profit by
more than £10m per annum.
BBSRC, 29 November 2013
New era for RASE as it unveils
farm extension service plans
Agricultural societies in England and
Wales will join forces to provide an enhanced network of
information and support for farmers under ambitious new
Spearheaded by the Royal Agricultural
Society of England (RASE), the aim of the farm extension
service will be to use agricultural societies around the
country as hubs for knowledge and technology transfer.
Described by RASE chief executive
David Gardner as the future for the organisation in the post
Royal Show era, he is adamant the initiative can bridge the
gap between ‘basic science and applied science’.
Farmers Guardian, 29 November
'Wildlife at risk' from incoming
ban on pesticide linked to bee deaths
be at risk from an imminent ban on pesticides linked
to bee deaths, farmers and beekeepers have warned.
On Sunday, a
European Union-wide ban on three neonicotinoids will
come into force, but the National Farmers Union (NFU) and
British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) have said the
restriction could fuel a rise in spray-based pesticides.They
say such alternatives could harm bees, soil-dwelling insects and
spiders, and lead to higher genetic resistance to pesticides
among crop-eating insects.
The NFU has
said there has
not been a full assessment of the environmental effects of
the ban, while the BBKA has called for a revision to
guidelines on safe use of neonicotinoid alternatives.
The Guardian, 28 November 2013
Arming farmers with technology
to 'transform' food production
Agri technologies have the potential to
transform UK food production but the scientific community
must be able to translate knowledge and data to farmers on
the front line.
This transfer of knowledge and how best
to do it was discussed by high level Government Ministers
and leaders in science, farming and food at an event in
London today (Wednesday, November 27).
Following on from the launch of the
Government’s £160million investment in a new
Agricultural-Technologies strategy, stakeholders debated how
a £70m Government ‘catalyst’ can be used by businesses
and academics to develop innovative new technologies and
bring them to the market, such as recent innovations of
cancer-fighting broccoli or GPS guided tractors.
Farmers Guardian, 27 November
Neonicotinoid restrictions shroud crop
future in uncertainty, says NFU
With only days to
go before restrictions on crop protection products begin,
the NFU has described the lack of an EU impact assessment to
determine the effect on pollinators and crop production as
The NFU believes that the decision to restrict the use of
neonicotinoids, which comes into force from Sunday (December
1), is not justified by the available scientific evidence
and could have serious consequences for farmers’ ability to
grow produce sustainably.
Evidence published in the summer shows that since the
neonicotinoids were introduced in the UK in the early 1990s,
the rate of decline of bumblebees in Great Britain has
slowed, and the biodiversity of other wild bees has
increased. It is suggested that these biodiversity
improvements during the last two decades are the result of
agri-environmental measures put in place by farmers.
Farm Business, 26 November
Plant ageing gene key to food
Breakthrough science with the ability to
control the life-cycle of plants could be the solution to
increasing food production as population exceeds nine
billion by 2050. Innovative work by researchers at the
University of Münster and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular
Biology and Applied Ecology, Germany, could provide the
answer to increasing food productivity and yields.
Their work has identified key regulatory genes in plants
that ‘switch-off’ flowering and allow plants to live longer,
grow faster and become bigger. The teams at Münster and
Fraunhofer made the breakthrough after discovering a mutant
tobacco plant which showed permanent vegetative growth, no
aging, evergreen leaves and late or no flowering.
Farming UK, 25 November 2013
NFU backs Syngenta's
EU neonic legal challenge
The NFU is to intervene in support of Syngenta’s legal bid
to reverse a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides linked to a
decline in bee health.
NFU president Peter Kendall confirmed:
“We will support Syngenta’s legal challenge of the European
Commission’s hasty restrictions on certain neonicotinoids,
including thiamethoxam, distributed by Syngenta as Cruiser.
We are planning direct intervention in the case.”
Restrictions on the use of four
neonicotinoid seed treatments, including Syngenta’s
thiamethoxam (Cruiser), will come into effect across the EU
from 1 December, on bee-attractive crops, including oilseed
rape, maize and sunflowers.
Farmers Weekly, 21 November 2013
Studies show neonics 'not
linked to bee deaths'
Comprehensive field studies carried
out by Syngenta have found no evidence linking neonicotinoid
seed treatments to poor bee health.
Restrictions on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides
on bee-attractive crops, including Syngenta’s thiamethoxam
(Cruiser), will come into force across the EU from 1
The European Commission pushed through a
two-year ban on neonicotinoids despite a split among EU
countries. The action was in response to the European Food
Safety Authority’s (EFSA) scientific opinion that these
insecticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees.
Farmers Weekly, 18 November 2013
Food output ‘throttled by overzealous
policy makers are thwarting Britain’s ability to become more
self-sufficient in food, industry leaders have been told.
withdrawal of key farm inputs – banned in many cases without
scientific justification – threatened to curtail farm output
with devastating effect, said David Caffall, chief executive
of the Agriculture Industries Confederation.
Farmers’ ability to innovate and
increase food production was as hampered by single-issue
policy makers as it was by single-issue pressure groups, Mr
Caffall told the Agribusiness 2014 conference on Wednesday
Farmers Weekly, 13 November 2013
Debate over free-range hen welfare
Welfare standards are on average higher
in laying hens kept in cages than in free range flocks,
according to a leading veterinary expert. Enriched cages,
which have replaced battery cages, are not ideal but produce
better conditions than some free-range farms, said Prof
Christine Nicol of Bristol University. Not all free-range
farms meet standards consumers expect, she added.
Other research contradicts this, said
Humane Society International.
About 50% of UK hens are now housed in
enriched cages. The cages, which contain more space for
birds, including a perch and nest area, typically contain
around 90 hens and are stacked on top of each other in
BBC News, 13 November 2013
Farmer - scientist conversation to
address food production challenge
A pioneering event bringing farmers and
scientific experts together to look at ways crop
biotechnology can help farming meet global food challenges
is to take place at NFU headquarters this week.
The farmer-scientist conversation, at Stoneleigh Park on
Thursday, will see scientists from Rothamsted Research, The
John Innes Centre, NIAB and Leeds University on hand to
discuss the crop production problems farmers face, and the
potential solutions the scientific community could offer.
NFU chief science adviser Dr Helen Ferrier, said that it
would give farmers direct access to some of the top
scientists in their field.
Farm Business, 13 November 2013
UK needs 'mega farms' to keep food
prices down, say experts
Britain needs more "mega farms" housing
hundreds or thousands of animals to keep food prices down
and improve animal welfare, according to a group of
influential farming experts.
Speaking at a conference organised by
the Science Media Centre, Toby Mottram, professor at the
Royal Agricultural University, said herds of more than 1,000
cows had "significant economies of scale". This could reduce
costs while allowing yields to rise. "The industry is going
to larger herds. Big may be better."
There are only a small number of mega
farms in the UK at present where large animals are kept –
only 17 of the UK's dairy herds have more than 1,000 cattle,
for instance, though there are many more poultry farms where
thousands of birds are kept together – but there are several
controversial projects in planning.
The Guardian, 12 November 2013
EU faces decision on GM crop
European governments must now decide
once and for all if they are to block or permit the
cultivation of genetically modified crops on the continent,
the European Commission said Wednesday.
executive said it is now handing over to ministers a final
decision on the cultivation of TC1507 corn by Pioneer after
a European Court ruling that the company's request for
permission submitted in 2001 must be dealt with.
At the same time, the Commission is
asking member states to accept or reject a proposal designed
to end a three-year deadlock on the principle of GM
cultivation, an issue that is unusually divisive in Europe.
UN highlights role of farming in closing
Changing farming practices could play an
important role in averting dangerous climate change says the
In their annual
emissions report, they measure the difference between the
pledges that countries have made to cut warming gases and
the targets required to keep temperatures below 2C.
On present trends there is likely to be
an annual excess of 8 to 12 gigatonnes of these gases by
Agriculture, they say, could make a
significant difference to the gap.
BBC News, 5 November 2013
Productive agriculture benefits
more than just food security
Productive agriculture delivers important
benefits to Europe and
the world - from increased food security and more efficient
land use to climate change mitigation, biodiversity
protection and economic and social stability - according to
a landmark academic study released today.
The new report, "The social, economic and
environmental value of agricultural productivity in the
European Union", has been published by the Humboldt Forum
for Food and Agriculture, an international non-profit think
tank based in Berlin.
Farming Online, 4
Canadian scientists use bees to
researchers are experimenting with novel ways to get
honeybees to deliver pesticides to crops to kill pests,
reports CBC News.
Using a new
method, called “bee vectoring”, the bees drop off pest
control agents as they fly from one flower to another.
As they exit their hives, the bees
walk through a tray of organic pesticides that stick to
their legs and hair. The natural pesticides are not harmful
to bees or humans.
Farmers Weekly, 29 October 2013
England's chief vet has rejected
accusations his advice to ministers on the badger cull
risked bringing the veterinary profession into disrepute.
In official advice, Nigel Gibbens said
extending the culling period would help to achieve the
earliest and greatest possible impact on bovine TB.
But vets have questioned the grounds for
the extension, saying it risked spreading TB to badgers and
BBC News, 28 October 2013
New agricultural research
A new Centre for Agriculture, Food and
Environmental Management has been launched to drive research
into animal and plant production in the context of the
global food security challenge.
The research initiative represents a
collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire, the Royal
Veterinary College, and Rothamsted Research.
The new centre will combine the resources of the three
institutions to undertake research in food production, food
supply, environmental management and sustainability. more
Farmers Guardian, 27 October
EU farming organisations demand
greater access to GM crops
A number of EU farming organisations have
joined forces to demand changes to EU rules to make it
easier for GM crops to be developed and grown in Europe.
The organisations representing farmers in
the four countries of the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany,
Portugal and Romania have written an open
letter to the European Commission expressing
‘deep concern’ about the effects of EU GM policies and
regulations on ‘the potential of modern biotechnology to
strengthen the sustainable production of food’.
Farmers Guardian, 23 October
Opponents of third world GM
crops are 'wicked', says Environment Secretary Owen Paterson
Environmental groups fighting against
the use of GM crops in Africa and Asia are “wicked” and
potentially condemning millions of people to a premature
death, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, says today.
strongest attack yet on the anti-GM lobby Mr Paterson told
The Independent that NGOs such as Greenpeace and
Friends of the Earth that oppose GM technology were “casting
a dark shadow over attempts to feed the world”.
And he backed an open letter signed by
a group of eminent international scientists calling for the
rapid rollout of vitamin A-enhanced rice to help prevent the
cause of up to a third of the world’s child deaths.
The Independent, 14 October 2013
MP hails the potential impact of new
A historic new link between
Norfolk and Cambridgeshire
which will be launched today could help raise the profile of
the region on the world stage and be a catalyst for new ways
of raising cash for infrastructure, a Norfolk MP has said.
The new Norwich-Cambridge Agri-Tech
Cluster will link the world-class research capabilities
within the two cities with the land and food and farming
sectors in the neighbouring rural areas.
But Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, who
co-ordinated the development of the UK Agri-tech Strategy in
his previous role as life science advisor, said the
partnership could unlock other opportunities.
Eastern Daily Press, 11 October 2013
Genetically modified yeast turns
crop waste into liquid fuel
US researchers have used genetically
modified yeast to enhance the production of biofuels from
The new method solves some of the
problems in using waste like straw to make bioethanol fuel.
The scientists involved say the
development could help overcome reservations about using
land for fuel production.
BBC News, 11 October
pound boost for innovation in agricultural technology
Agri-Tech Catalyst has been launched, to help businesses and
researchers develop innovative solutions to global
challenges in the agricultural technology (‘agri-tech')
Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's
fastest-growing markets. It is driven by global changes: a
rising population, climate change, the rapid development of
emerging economies, and growing geopolitical instability
around shortages of land, water and energy.
Breakthroughs in nutrition, informatics, satellite imaging,
remote sensing, meteorology and precision farming mean that
there are also many opportunities in this area.
Technology Strategy Board, 9 October 2013
Scientists identify genes in septoria
defence front line
Prospects for controlling septoria
tritici in the future have been boosted with the news
researchers at Rothamsted Research have identified genes
with the potential to prevent development of the disease in
Using modern biotechnology methods
scientists have identified two wheat genes whose functions
are to activate the wheat defence response. This finding can
now pave the way to developing molecular approaches to
combat the disease in the future, it is claimed.
Farmers Guardian, 8 October 2013
Stress linked to bee colony failure
Extended periods of stress can cause
bee colony failures, according to new research published
today in the journal Ecology Letters.
from Royal Holloway University have found that when bees are
exposed to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides – which do
not directly kill bees – their behaviour changes and they
stop working properly for their colonies. The results showed
that exposure to pesticides at levels bees encounter in the
field, has subtle impacts on individual bees, and can
eventually make colonies fail.
This discovery provides an important
breakthrough in identifying the reasons for the recent
global decline of bees, a trend that has baffled many
Genetic selection for TB
resistance 'available in two years'
Scientists claim dairy farmers will be
able to genetically select for bovine TB (bTB) resistance
within two years thanks to a joint project underway in
Over the next 18 months, a new trait will
be developed which will rank bulls for their resistance to
The project is being funded by DairyCo and
implemented by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Edinburgh
University’s Roslin Institute.
Farmers Guardian, 6 October
facing 'crop protection crunch'
The amount of money being spent on
research into crop protection has nosedived due to Europe’s
‘hostile’ regulatory environment, experts have claimed.
A new study by agribusiness consultants
Phillips McDougall found investment into research and
development spend had fallen sharply from 33 per cent in the
1980s to just 16 per cent today.
As a result, the number of new active
ingredients being developed and introduced in the EU is
decreasing despite an increase in global expenditure on
agricultural research and development.
Farmers Guardian, 3 October 2013
farms’ could enable cities to produce more food sustainably
A system of food production that
combines fish breeding and vegetable growing without the use
of soil could transform our urban roofspaces into highly
productive sustainable farms and help address a looming
global food crisis, according to scientists.
Researchers at Zurich University have
developed an 'aquaponic farm’ on a rooftop in the city
of Basel in Switzerland. The £500,000 project combines fish
breeding and vegetable growing using 'hydroponics’, a method
of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in
water, without soil.
The 260-square metre (m2) research farm
is capable of producing 5000 kilogrammes (kg) of vegetables
and 800 kg of fish every year. The farm has produced an
assortment of vegetables, including peas, salad leaves,
tomatoes and courgettes.
GreenWise, 2 October 2013
Major cuts of greenhouse gas
emissions from livestock within reach
Greenhouse gas emissions by the
livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30 percent
through the wider use of existing best practices and
technologies, according to a new study released by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The National Farmers' Union said more investment and
government support was needed for farmers in the UK
providing 'part of the solution' to the growing threat of
climate change with agriculture set to meet its greenhouse
gas emission reduction target for 2020.
Online, 30 September 2013
NFU calls for
government to deliver on R&D promises after harvest results
who battled against the elements to ensure the English wheat
crop survived the torrid weather conditions of 2012 have
seen high quality from their harvest but gathered a smaller
crop despite the good harvesting conditions.
The NFU said that as a net importer of food, the UK must
start to produce more itself and called on Government to
deliver on its promises to improve long-neglected
agricultural research and knowledge exchange to help
weather-proof British crops.
“A reverse in the decline of spend for agricultural R&D is
crucial if we are to increase production and impact less on
the environment in years to come, particularly if extreme
weather events become more frequent,” said NFU combinable
crops board chairman Andrew Watts. more
Farm Business, 26 September 2013
£4M of research funding announced to
improve the health of livestock
£4M of funding for world-leading UK
research to improve the health of farmed animals including
sheep, pigs, cows and poultry has been awarded by the
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council's
Animal Health Research Club (ARC).
The club funds research to improve our
understanding of resistance in farmed animals to pests and
disease, and the funded projects include work to combat
costly livestock diseases, create safer vaccines, breed
healthier livestock and investigate immune system
25 September 2013
Labour confirms it would abandon badger cull policy
The Labour Party has already made up its mind to abandon the
Government’s current badger cull policy and would replace it
with more spending on developing an oral badger vaccine.
Shadow Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies told an NFU
fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference that, even if
the pilot culls achieved the predicted 16 per cent benefit
in reducing cattle bovine GB, it would still ‘not be
sufficient’ for the Party to continue with the policy.
Farmers Guardian, 24 September 2013
Report highlights radical change
needed to tackle avoidable food waste
A report commissioned by the UK’s
Global Food Security (GFS) programme has outlined the vital
priorities for future research to address the growing
problem of food waste.
‘Food Waste within Global Systems’ highlights research
priorities that will help to decrease food waste and losses
across the supply chain, from food production through to
food processing, retail and consumption.
The report indicates that tackling waste is a major part of
providing enough food to feed a growing population
sustainably in the future.
Farm Business, 20 September 2013
Barroso science adviser dismisses GM crops opposition as
'form of madness'
Opposition to the growing of genetically
modified (GM) crops on alleged scientific grounds was
yesterday dismissed as "a form of madness" by the chief
scientific adviser to European Commission president Jose
Prof Anne Glover, who holds the chair of
molecular biology at Aberdeen University, was speaking after
addressing a conference of top European soil scientists at
the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen.
Prof Glover said "not a single piece of
scientific evidence" existed to support claims food produced
from GM crops is unsafe.
The Herald, 20
Syngenta launches seven-year food security plan
Syngenta has launched a new project to tackle global food
security, which challenges farmers to increase crop
productivity while reducing the use of fertiliser and
The Good Growth Plan reflects Syngenta's
belief that agricultural productivity must increase to feed
a global population, which is growing by 200,000 people
At the same time, farmland is being
depleted through urbanisation and soil erosion while water
resources are under mounting pressure. Meanwhile, rural
communities - those responsible for growing food - are often
trapped in poverty.
Farmers Weekly, 19 September 2013
Farmers ‘left behind’ by EU’s block on GM crops
The EU has put politics above science by refusing to open
the door to genetically modified crops, leaving European
farmers more than ten years behind their competitors, the
biotechnology company Monsanto has said.
Executives at the company said that EU rules had made it
impossible to pursue plans to launch GM products in the
bloc, where most crops are grown using conventional means.
The criticism came after the US-based seed company withdrew
longstanding applications to grow new crops in the EU after
failing to get approval.
The Times, 16 September 2013
UK fruit and veg self-sufficiency falls to 56 per
UK self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables has fallen to
just 56 per cent on the back of the poor weather experienced
by growers in 2012.
This represents a further fall from the average of 59 per
cent for the previous five years. The poor weather not only
affected production in 2012 but had the knock-on effect of
reducing the volume of fruit, vegetables and potatoes
planted last year.
The widening UK trade deficit in fruit and vegetables now
stands in excess of an extraordinary £4.4 billion.
Farmers Guardian, 11 September 2013
Government rejects the science behind
The government says it accepts the EU ban
on the use of some pesticides linked to bee deaths, but it
rejects the science behind the moratorium.
In a response to the Environmental Audit
Committee, the government indicates it will not ban the use
of these chemicals for gardeners.
The Committee says they are disappointed
with this approach. But the National Farmers Union says the
government view is "balanced and sensible".
BBC News, 10 September 2013
EU must recognise crucial role
of food producers
Policy-makers across the EU must
recognise Europe’s role in meeting the global food security
challenge and ensure it plays its part in feeding a rapidly
rising world population.
Speaking at the CIR AgChem Forum in
Protection Association (CPA)
chief executive Nick von Westenholz , said the sector was
capable of delivering hi-tech solutions to help farmers
increase food production sustainably, but the impact of
current EU policies in areas such as pesticides and GMOs
runs a serious risk of stifling innovation, deterring
research and development investment and damaging the
competitiveness of European agriculture.
“There is now widespread recognition of
the scale of the global food security challenge. The world’s
population is set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and with
farmland, water and energy resources in limited supply, we
must find new ways to produce more food from less,” said Mr
Farmers Guardian, 6 September
Cattle TB vaccine trials to
start next year
Field trials of a cattle vaccine
for bovine TB are due to get underway in England and Wales
The Animal Health and Veterinary
Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has developed a Bacillus
Calmette-Guérin (BCG) cattle vaccine against bTB and an
accompanying diagnostic test to Differentiate Infected from
Vaccinated Animals (DIVA).
However, they are still a long way from
being used commercially in UK cattle. The
UK Government and European are working to a 10-year
includes official approval of both products and changes to
EU legislation to allow vaccination in cattle, which is
currently banned as it interferes with the TB skin test.
Farmers Guardian, 4 September
Climate change ‘driving spread of crop
Climate change is helping pests and
diseases that attack crops to spread around the world, a
study suggests. Researchers from the universities of Exeter
and Oxford have found crop pests are moving at an average of
two miles (3km) a year.
The team said they were heading towards
the north and south poles, and were establishing in areas
that were once too cold for them to live in. The research is
published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Currently, it is estimated that between
10% and 16% of the world's crops are lost to disease
outbreaks. The researchers warn that rising global
temperatures could make the problem worse.
BBC News, 2 September 2013
technology helps improve sheep sector
Genomic technologies are being
developed for the UK sheep sector that will help produce
more efficient and productive breeding stock.
A £1.3m research programme led by
Innovis and supported by the UK's Technology Strategy Board
(TSB) will help develop new genomic technologies that will
enable animals to be selected for attributes such as
maternal ability, health, carcass composition and eating
quality. These are traits that cannot easily be assessed in
the live animal.
The four-year project, which began last
year, is recording more than five selected traits in about
6,300 animals. The information will be used to develop new
Genomic Breeding Values (GBVs) to be used in conjunction
with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to enable improved
selection accuracy of breeding animals.
Farmers Weekly, 28 August 2013
Pilot badger cull gets underway
The pilot badger culls are underway, the
NFU has confirmed.
The six-week culls will take place in
West Somerset and West Gloucestershire to establish whether
the policy can be rolled out nationally next year.
Culling will take place at night over
areas of approximately 300.sq.km, mainly through controlled
shooting by trained marksmen in areas that have been
pre-baited. Caged trapping and shooting will also be
deployed in some places.
Farmers Guardian, 27 August 2013
Syngenta mounts legal challenge
to EU neonicotinoid ban
Syngenta has submitted a legal challenge
to the European Commission’s decision to suspend the use of
on its neonicotinoid seed treatments on crops, like oilseed
rape, that are attractive to bees.
pushed through restrictions on three products, including
Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, in May after a vote by member
states failed to reach the necessary qualified majority on
April 29. The restrictions, which also cover the seed
treatments clothianidin and imidacloprid, reflect concerns
that neonicotinoid products are harmful to bees. They come
into force on December 1.
Syngenta claims the Commission took the
decision on the basis of a ‘flawed process, an
inaccurate and incomplete assessment by the European Food
Safety Authority and without the full support of EU Member
Farmers Guardian, 27 August 2013
UK & USA
scientists collaborate to design crops of the future
of UK and USA researchers will begin a programme of novel
research to revolutionise current farming methods by giving
crops the ability to thrive without using costly, polluting
highly innovative projects include: searching the planet for
a lost bacterium with special, sought-after properties;
using synthetic biology to create a new intracellular
machine allowing plants to produce fertiliser themselves;
and engineering beneficial relationships between plants and
$8.86M of Biotechnology and Biological
Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and US National Science
Foundation (NSF) funding has been awarded following an
'Ideas Lab' to generate new approaches that address growing
global food demand, which will need 190.4M tonnes of
nitrogen-fertiliser by 2015
Spanish GM maize area increases by 20%
The area of land growing genetically
modified maize in Spain has increased by almost 20% to
record levels. Spanish ministry of agriculture figures show
138,543.05ha of Monsanto's MON810 variety were drilled this
year, up 19% on 2012.
The variety carries a gene from a
toxin-producing bacterium that makes the plant resistant to
the European corn borer. It was approved for cultivation in
the EU in 1998 and is the only GM crop cultivated
commercially in Europe.
It now accounts for nearly one-third of
Spain's 424,491ha maize crop.
Farmers Weekly, 16 August 2013
Badger cull only effective over large
areas, scientists agree
Badger culling would need to be conducted over very large
geographical areas to have a major impact on controlling
bovine TB disease, a group of scientists have concluded.
Ten experts in the field of badgers and
bTB have published a
paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society they
say is a ‘restatement of the natural science evidence base
relevant to the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great
The scientists, which include former
members of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bTB say
the findings are intended as a ‘succinct summary of the
natural science’ on the subject and insist their findings
are ‘as policy-neutral as possible’.
Farmers Guardian, 12 August 2013
‘Golden rice’ GM trial vandalised in the Philippines
A trial plot of genetically modified rice has been destroyed
by local farmers in the Philippines.
"Golden Rice" has been developed by scientists to
combat vitamin A deficiency, which affects millions of
children in the developing world. The crop was
just weeks away from
being submitted to the authorities for a safety evaluation.
But a group of around 400 protestors attacked the field
trial in the Bicol region and uprooted all the GM plants.
News, 9 August 2013
wheat trials boss to step down
The man behind Rothamsted Research’s
high profile GM wheat trials Maurice Moloney is to step down
from his role to join the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.
Prof Moloney has worked as director and
chief executive at Rothamsted in Harpenden for the past four
years. He will leave the post in December.
Farmers Guardian, 8 August 2013
bodies 'disappointed' at agri-tech strategy
Several agricultural engineering bodies
have hit out at the Government’s agri-tech strategy which
was announced last week.
The Agricultural Engineers Association
(AEA) highlighted farm equipment was given only a ‘couple of
small paragraphs’, and said this was ‘verging on insult’ for
an industry with an annual turnover of almost £4 billion.
And the Institution of Agricultural
Engineers said the strategy needed to do more to recognise
the role of agricultural engineering.
Farmers Guardian, 6 August 2013
World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten
The world's first lab-grown burger was
cooked and eaten at a news conference in London on Monday.
Scientists took cells from a cow and, at
an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of
muscle that they combined to make a patty.
Researchers say the technology could be a
sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand
BBC News, 5 August 2013
World food security more
vulnerable than ever to climate change
A new study, published today in
Science, has called for a ‘climate-smart food system' to
prevent climate change from slowing progress in eradicating
The researchers carried out a review of key scientific
papers on food security and climate change since 1990. It
confirmed a robust and coherent global pattern of climate
change impacts on crop productivity that could have
consequences for food availability.
The review highlighted improvements in agricultural
technologies, such as more productive and climate-resilient
crop varieties, are important to counter this threat but are
unlikely to be sufficient on their own. Wider changes in
food trade and stocks, and nutrition and social policy
options are also critical.
Farming UK, 3 August 2013
‘carbon farming’ to curb CO2
Scientists say that planting large
numbers of jatropha trees in desert areas could be an
effective way of curbing emissions of CO2.
Dubbed "carbon farming", researchers say
the idea is economically competitive with high-tech carbon
capture and storage projects.
But critics say the idea could be have
unforeseen, negative impacts including driving up food
prices. The research
has been published in
the journal Earth System Dynamics.
BBC News, 1 August 2013
Turning waste paper into biofuels
from the BBSRC-funded Institute of Food Research (IFR) have
successfully produced bioethanol from waste paper, as part
of efforts to turn waste into valuable products.
To increase the sustainability of biofuels, there is
currently a drive to turn away from deriving them from food
crops, such as corn and sugarcane. Bioethanol derived from
the waste products of agriculture and the food chain is more
attractive as this avoids competition with food crops,
reduces food waste and lowers the carbon footprint.
Achieving this on a commercial scale needs
to overcome a number of hurdles, which the Biorefinery
Centre on the Norwich Research Park working on.
Institute of Food Research, 31 July 2013
leading to bee deaths, study finds
combination of pesticides and fungicides is contaminating
the pollen bees collect to feed their hives making them
unable to fend off a deadly parasite, according to a new
at the University of Maryland and the US Department of
Agriculture claim the contamination of pollen affects bees’
ability to fight Nosema ceranae - the disease which leads
bees to starve to death.
collected pollen from bees pollinating blueberry, cranberry,
cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon, weeds and wildflowers and
found 35 different pesticides as well as ‘high’ fungicide
loads in the samples.
Farmers Guardian, 31 July 2013
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria could cut fertiliser bills
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria could cut nitrogen fertiliser bills
at least in half and soon be seen be seen in commercial
oilseed rape and wheat crops in two to three years.
Research work at Nottingham University has
isolated the bacteria from sugar cane and put them into
mainstream arable crops with encouraging results.
This N-Fix technology gives crops the
ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere rather than rely
on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied to a growing crop,
and does not use genetic modification.
The university's Edward Cocking introduced
the bacteria into turf grass and was able to cut synthetic
nitrogen needs by at least 50%, and is this season looking
at wheat and oilseed rape.
Farmers Weekly, 29 July 2013
Rothamsted and Syngenta announce
Research and biotechnology firm Syngenta have announced a
multi-million pound scientific partnership to develop high
yielding, environmentally sustainable wheat.
partnership aims to develop scientific knowledge into new
technologies that will benefit farmers directly, support UK
agriculture, contribute to UK economic growth and improve
wheat yields worldwide.
The partnership will focus its
research on Rothamsted’s 20:20 Wheat Programme, which aims
to increase wheat productivity to yield 20 tonnes per
hectare within 20 years.more
Farmers Guardian, 24 July 2013
GM crops: Public fears over 'Frankenstein food' may be
easing, Independent poll reveals
More people support rather than
oppose the growing of genetically modified crops and more of
them are prepared to buy and eat GM foods than not,
according to a survey for The Independent.
As the Government launches a drive to
persuade people to eat more GM foods, the ComRes poll
suggests that public fears about so-called "Frankenstein
food" may be easing. Asked if they would support the
growing of GM crops in the UK, 47 per cent agreed,
while 42 per cent disagreed and 11 per cent replied don't
know. Men (57 per cent) were more likely than women
(38 per cent) to support the idea.
Liberal Democrat supporters (59 per cent)
were more likely to back the growing of GM crops than people
who intend to vote for Labour (52 per cent), the
Conservatives (50 per cent) or the UK Independence Party (46
The Independent, 23 July 2013
Agri-Tech Strategy: Horticulture sector calls for re-balancing of
The British Growers Association (BGA)
has welcomed the publication of the UK Agricultural
Technologies Strategy as the strongest recognition by
Government for more than 30 years of the strategic
importance of supporting a productive, resilient, hi-tech UK
Highlighting the major opportunities within the horticulture
sector to increase home-grown production, displace imports
and boost economic activity, BGA chief executive James
Hallett said it was time for the UK fresh produce sector to
secure its fair share of public sector R&D investment.
Farming UK, 23 July 2013
analysis offers hope for saving the wild side of staple food
Global efforts to
adapt staple foods like rice, wheat and potato to climate
change have been given a major boost today as new research
shows the whereabouts of their wild cousins –which could
hold beneficial qualities to help improve crops and make
them more productive and resilient.
The analysis assesses 29 of the world’s most important food
crops and reveals severe threats to just over half of their
wild relatives as they are not adequately saved in genebanks
and not available to researchers and plant breeders for crop
The initiative, led by the Global Crop
Diversity Trust (Crop Trust) in partnership with Kew’s
Millennium Seed Bank and in collaboration with national and
international agricultural research institutes, is the
largest ever global effort to conserve crop wild relatives.
Farm Business, 23 July 2013
Government unveils £160m ‘agri-tech’ strategy
The government has unveiled a £160m strategy to boost
farming technology - a move it says will turn the UK into a
world leader in agricultural science.
It aims to help farmers
to deliver sustainable, healthy and affordable food for
The strategy includes a £160m government investment in
developing cutting edge technologies and taking innovative
products such as cancer-fighting broccoli from the field to
the shopping aisle.
Industry is also expected to invest heavily in the project,
with the aim to transform farming in the UK, using the
latest technologies to produce more while affecting the
22 July 2013
£160 million technology boost for UK agricultural industries
The UK will become a world leader in agricultural science
and technology following the launch of a new strategy to
deliver sustainable, healthy and affordable food for future
Breakthroughs in nutrition, informatics, satellite imaging,
remote sensing, meteorology and precision farming mean the
agriculture sector is one of the world’s fastest growing
Developed in partnership with industry, the Agricultural
Technologies Strategy will ensure everyone from farmers and
retailers, to cooks and shoppers share the benefits these
exciting opportunities bring.
It includes a £160 million government investment in
developing cutting edge technologies, and taking innovative
products such as cancer-fighting broccoli from the field to
the shopping aisle.
Monsanto to drop
applications to grow GM crops in EU
Monsanto, the US agribusiness, will
withdraw applications to grow genetically modified crops in
the EU in an acknowledgment that Europeans’ deep-seated
resistance to such products is not likely to change in the
Jose Manuel Madero, Monsanto’s
president for Europe, said that withdrawing the applications
– which have languished for years – followed from the
company’s decision four years ago to scale back GM
activities in the EU and instead focus on the sale of
The shift will also allow the company
to focus its efforts on securing EU approval for increasing
amounts of animal feed – imported from Brazil, Argentina and
elsewhere – grown from GM seeds.
Financial Times, 18 July 2013
EU to ban second seed treatment over bee fears
Brussels has announced restrictions
on the seed treatment fipronil, saying it poses an acute
risk to Europe's honey bee populations.
A ban on the use of fipronil as a seed treatment for maize
and sunflowers will apply from 31 December, although seeds
already treated can be sown until the end of February 2014.
The European Commission made the
announcement on Tuesday (16 July). It follows a decision
earlier this year to ban the use of neonicotinoid seed
treatements on oilseed rape.
Fipronil manufacturer, BASF, expressed
its disagreement with the commission's decision, saying it
would limit growers' access to valuable and approved
Farmers Weekly, 17 July 2013
prove if beef is really Scottish
A major initiative to authenticate the
provenance of beef labelled as Scotch or Scottish is to be
launched by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland.
The move comes in the wake of the
horsemeat scandal and will use the latest scientific
techniques to prove if beef sold in butchers’ shops and
supermarkets has genuinely been produced in Scotland.
“There is no doubt that the horsemeat
scandal has undermined the public’s confidence in food
labelling and there is more interest in how food is produced
and where it comes from,” said FSA Scotland director Charles
The Scotsman, 16 July 2013
MPs express 'dismay' at lack of horsemeat prosecutions
An influential committee of MPs has
expressed ‘dismay’ at the failure of the UK and Irish
authorities to bring any prosecutions in the wake of the
In a report
published on Tuesday, the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs also criticises the Food Standards Agency’s handling
of the crisis, accusing it of a ‘lack of clarity’ in its
The report points to overwhelming evidence
from retailers and food processors in the UK and Ireland
suggesting a ‘complex, highly organised network of companies
trading in and mislabelling frozen and processed meat or
meat products’ It says this was clearly done in a way that
‘fails to meet specifications and is fraudulent and
Guardian, 16 July 2013
Droughts could hit food production in England in 2020s,
Droughts could devastate food production
in the England by the 2020s, according to a report
from the government's official climate change advisers.
Without action, increasingly hot and dry
summers may mean farmers will face shortfalls of 50% of the water they
currently use to grow crops.
The report, from the climate
(CCC), also warns that current farming practices
may be allowing the country's richest soils to be washed or
The Guardian, 10 July 2013
DEFRA unveils strategy to attract new entrants
Farming must promote itself as a highly-skilled,
professional and exciting career to attract the best talent
and secure the future of the industry, a new report has
Experts in farming, business and education
published a six-month review on Tuesday (9 July) into the
opportunities and barriers faced by people starting careers
in UK agriculture.
DEFRA's Future of Farming Review group,
launched by farm minister David Heath at the Oxford Farming
Conference in January, has set out what actions they think
are needed to attract new talent to careers in agriculture.
Farmers Weekly, 9 July 2013
£400,000 to build
mutant potato ‘library’
BBSRC has agreed to fund a £382,000
project to study genetic mutation in potato; which could
lead to improved varieties of one of the world's most
After wheat and rice, potato is the
world's third most important food crop. By 2020 it is
estimated that more than two billion people worldwide will
depend on potato for food, feed, or income.
Despite this, the genetic study of
potato has lagged behind many other plant crops. This three
year project will develop the first 'library' of potato
mutants which can be used as a resource for further genetics
research and development of agriculturally valuable strains.
BBSRC, 8 July 2013
Gene discovery to aid weed
BBSRC-funded scientists at the Universities of York and
Durham have discovered a gene called AmGSTF1 that
plays a key role in controlling multi-herbicide resistance
(MHR) in black-grass and rye-grass. Chemicals that inhibit
this gene can be used to make weed killers effective against
Black-grass and rye-grass are both
widespread and serious weed problems in cereal and oilseed
rape rotations. Control using weed killers is becoming
increasingly problematic, with an estimated 1.2 million ha
of UK land now infested with black-grass. Both black-grass
and rye-grass can acquire a single defence mechanism that
confers resistance to all weed killers, whatever their mode
of action (MHR).
BBSRC, 8 July 2013
Mine seed banks to feed tomorrow’s world
With fewer than a dozen flowering
plants accounting for 80 percent of humanity’s caloric
intake out of 300,000 species, people need to tap unused
plants to feed the world in the near future, claims Cornell
plant geneticist Susan McCouch in the Comment feature of the
July 4 issue of Nature.
To keep pace with population growth and
rising incomes around the world, researchers estimate that
food availability must double in the next 25 years,
according to the paper.
The biodiversity stored in plant gene
banks coupled with advances in genetics and plant breeding
may hold the keys for meeting the demands of more food in
the face of climate change, soil degradation and water and
land shortages, according to the paper.
“Gene banks hold hundreds of thousands of
seeds and tissue culture materials collected from farmers’
fields and from wild, ancestral populations, providing the
raw material that plant breeders need to create crops of the
future,” said McCouch.
Seedquest, 5 July 2013
DEFRA plans to split UK into TB disease zones
A radical plan to tackle bovine TB will
see England divided into three risk areas, as DEFRA ramps up
the battle against the disease.
In what amounts to a comprehensive tranche
of measures aimed at curtailing and eventually eliminating
the disease, DEFRA proposals will see the country divided
into high-risk, low-risk and edge areas – each with their
own anti-TB strategy.
The ultimate aim is to secure official
TB-free status – a process which the government itself
acknowledges could take up to 25 years in the high-risk
areas of south-west England and the West Midlands, where
bovine TB is endemic
Farmers Weekly, 4 July 2013
Defra insists meat from TB reactors is safe
DEFRA has insisted meat sold into the food
chain from TB reactors is safe after reports suggested the
practice poses a risk to human health.
The Department has accused the Sunday
Times of ‘irresponsible scaremongering’, after it reported
that meat from more than 20,000 cattle in England that have
tested positive for bTB entered the food chain in 2012.
The report said the meat was being
sold to caterers and food processors and was ending up in
meat products sold in schools, hospitals and to the
military, and as pet food. It said the meat was not labelled
as being from TB reactors.
Guardian, 1 July 2013
'Bee Action Plan' To Tackle Insect Decline
The Government is
launching an "urgent and comprehensive" review of why bees
are declining and what is being done to help them.
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley has told a 'bee summit'
organised by Friends
of the Earth that
the work will lead to a "national pollinator strategy" aimed
at helping the insects to thrive.
Many species of bee and other pollinating
insects including butterflies, moths and hoverflies have
experienced declines in recent decades, raising concerns
about the impacts on food supplies, gardens and the
countryside. Factors including use of pesticides, loss of
habitat and more intensive agriculture are thought to be to
Sky News, 28 June 2013
engineered wheat that is resistant to stem rust, a fungal
disease that has ruined crops in Africa, Yemen and Iran. The
genetic advance raises the possibility of breeding wheat
that is resistant to the fungus, researchers report in the
Stem rust is regarded as a major threat to
wheat, one of the world's most important cereal crops. It is
a fungal disease that appears as reddish blisters on wheat.
The blisters contain millions of spores, which infect the
plant tissues, and disrupt the crop's ability to produce
Ug99, which was discovered in Uganda in
1999, is a form of black stem rust that can wipe out whole
Publicly funded science in the UK will
have to get by with another period of fixed spending.
Chancellor George Osborne says he intends to keep the
country's R&D budget at its current level through to the
next election. This figure, which amounts to about £4.6bn
per year, has been held flat since 2011.
The Chancellor made the announcement as
part of the government's Spending Review delivered to
Parliament. He did, however, promise to increase capital
expenditure - the money going into the laboratory
infrastructure. This will almost double from the current
A biotechnology company is
offering what it says is a highly nutritious replacement for
soya in animal feed by farming flies. AgriProtein
Technologies has developed a manufacturing process to
produce fly larvae for inclusion in animal diets.
is making use of slaughterhouse waste, animal manure and
discarded food to grow the larvae, which are then dried and
ground into a powdered ingredient for monogastric animal
says the resulting product has a nutritional composition
that is as good as fishmeal and better than soya - a vital
and increasingly expensive component of poultry feed.
23 June 2013
Growth in crop yields inadequate to feed the world by 2050 –
If the world is to grow enough food for
the projected global population in
2050, agricultural productivity will have to rise by at
least 60%, and may need to more than double, according to
researchers who have studied global crop yields.
They say that productivity is not rising
fast enough at present to meet the likely demands on agriculture.
The researchers studied yields of four key
staple crops – maize, rice, wheat and soybeans – and found
they were increasing by only about 0.9% to 1.6% a year. That
would lead to an overall increase of about 38% to 67% by
2050, which would only be enough to feed the population if
the lower end of the estimate of yields needed and the
maximum yield increase turns out to be the case.
Guardian, 21 June 2013
GM Crops 'Safe And Beneficial', Says Minister
GM foods are
probably safer than those produced conventionally, the
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said. In a speech to
scientists and people from the industry Mr Paterson attacked
critics who derided genetically modified crops as
"Frankenfoods" and said it was time for better informed
discussion on the use of the technology.
Mr Paterson said that major European
studies had concluded that there was "no scientific evidence
associating GMOs (genetically modified organisms) with
higher risks" for the environment or safety.
Mr Paterson, who has previously expressed
his backing for GM, said he wanted the UK to be at the
forefront of developing GM technology.
And in a warning to the European Union,
which has tight restrictions on growing GM crops, he said:
"While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping
the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left
behind. We cannot afford to let that happen."
Sky News, 20 June 2013
HGCA says neonics ban may cost over £72m
The ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments
could cost oilseed rape growers at least £72m a year due to
the lack of control of two key pests. The biggest concern of
the EU's ban is the implication of poor control of cabbage
stem flea bettle and aphid-spread turnips yellow virus,
according to a HGCA review.
In April, the EU pushed through a
two-year ban on three neonicotinoids for flowering crops
starting on 1 December due to their possible damage to bee
"Oilseed rape will see the biggest
impact, with 71% (502,623ha) being treated by
neonicotinoids," said Caroline Nicholls, HGCA's research and
knowledged transfer manager.
Farmers Weekly, 18 June 2013
G8 Summit: 'Biofuels not to blame for hunger'
Prime minister David Cameron must address the root cause of
global hunger rather than blaming biofuels for the problem
at the G8 Summit this week, said the UK biofuels supply
EU bioethanol production accounted for
only 3% of total cereal use in 2010-11 and only 2% of good
quality arable land was used for biofuels, said Clare
Wenner, head of renewable transport at the Renewable Energy
"Without this demand and with no real
export potential EU farmers would simply cut their
production and the corresponding volumes of animal feed
materials would need to be imported from overseas," she
Farmers Weekly, 18 June 2013
Minister wades into food v fuel debate
A debate is needed on the future of subsidies for renewable
energy projects which encourage crops to be grown for fuel
rather than food, farm minister David Heath has warned.
His comments come amid concern that
livestock farmers wanting to secure supplies of animal feed
and bedding are increasingly being priced out of the market
by demand for fuel crops which has resulted in soaring
values for forage maize and cereal straw.
Speaking to Farmers
Weekly, Mr Heath said he believed anaerobic digestion
had a huge role to play in creating energy from slurry and
waste,which involved an element of crop feed. But there was
a question mark over whether it was right to grow crops
specifically for energy.
Farmers Weekly, 18 June 2013
Climate change overseas likely to affect
UK food supplies
Climate change abroad will have a more
immediate effect on the UK than climate change at home, a
Research by consultants PWC for Defra says
the UK is likely to be hit by increasingly volatile prices
of many commodities as the climate is disrupted. It warns
that global production of some foodstuffs is concentrated in
a few countries. These are likely to suffer increasing
episodes of extreme weather.
The report says there will be
opportunities for the UK from climate change but these are
likely to be far outweighed by problems.
BBC News, 17 June 2013
Gene breakthrough in battle against
have made a major breakthrough in the fight against ash
at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich have identified a
strain of ash tree that is highly resistant against the
Europe, the Chalara fraxinea fungus responsible for ash
dieback has wiped out thousands of trees, including up to
90% of ash woodland in Denmark.
Farmers Weekly, 17 June 2013
David Cameron: 'It is time to look again at GM food'
David Cameron has opened the way to
Britain relaxing rules on genetically modified food. The
Prime Minister said he wanted to foster a “pro-science
culture” in the UK, and this started with a shift in
Britain’s attitude towards so-called GM food, dubbed
"Frankenstein food" by its critics.
The comments come ahead of a major speech by Environment
secretary Owen Paterson on Thursday next week which is set
to signal a change in GM policy.
Advocates argue that GM techniques increase crop yields,
avoid the need for pesticides, and could be essential in
assuring Britain's future food security. The Government is
reported to be ready to call for European Union restrictions
on cultivation of the crops for human consumption to be
Daily Telegraph, 14 June 2013
Defra approves Rothamsted GM wheat trial extension
DEFRA has approved the extension of
Rothamsted Research’s genetically modified (GM) wheat trials
Rothamsted scientists sowed
wheat plants which have been genetically engineered to
produce an aphid alarm pheromone to repel the pests in the
first stage of a two-year field trial last spring. The
scientists said the plants would cut the amount of
insecticides currently being used on crops.
Guardian, 13 June 2013
Research boost for soils and crop
Two major new
research initiatives have been announced which will put soil
ecosystems and future strategies for controlling pests,
diseases and weeds in the spotlight. More than £4.5m of
funding has been made available for research into soil
ecosystems and their impact on agriculture and food
Food Security programme used the opening day of Cereals to
put out a call for research proposals which focus on
improving understanding of the role of soil. The funding
will come from both the Biotechnology and Biological
Sciences Research Council and the Natural Environment
12 June 2013
Europe must back GM or just be an
old-tech museum, Willetts warns
Britain is urging the European Union to
ease restrictions on genetically modified crops and other
cutting-edge branches of science before the continent
becomes a "museum of 20th century technology", the Science
Minister has said.
David Willetts said that EU rules were holding back
ground-breaking work in fields as diverse as medicine,
agriculture and space exploration, and ministers were
worried that Europe could lag behind. He also voiced concern
about Europe's failure to feed itself despite exporting GM
technology to the third world.
10 June 2013
revolution needed to keep UK competitive
A scientific revolution is needed to
ensure UK farming remains competitive over the next 20 years
and beyond, industry leaders have warned.
Investment in innovation, research and
development - including the application of modern breeding
techniques to crops and livestock - is vital if agriculture
is to feed a growing world population, according to a
cross-industry report published on Thursday (6 June).
Called Feeding the Future -
Innovation Requirements for Primary Food Production in the
UK to 2030, the document sees industry leaders set out
what they believe farming's chief research and development
focus should be over the next two decades.
6 June 2013
Less than one in 100 are farmers, census shows
Less than one in 100 people in England and Wales are farmers
compared to almost a quarter of the workforce 170 years ago,
analysis has shown, revealing far-reaching changes in the
country's industrial landscape.
from the Office for National Statistics analysing
censuses from 1841 to 2011 found that the proportion of
workers who are in agriculture and fishing in England and
Wales fell to 0.9pc - or 200,000 people - in 2011.
Farming is now the smallest industry in
England and Wales compared to 1841 when over one in five
workers were in agriculture and fishing; since then, the
industry has declined as better transport allowed for more
importing of goods and machines have taken the place of
farmhands. "In 1900 one agricultural worker fed around 25
people in Great Britain, by 2010 one agricultural worker fed
200 people," said the ONS.
The Telegraph, 6 June 2013
The UK scientific community has issued a
broadside to the government, warning it not to cut the
science budget. Ministers are due to announce their spending
plans for the next four years on 26 June.
The public research budget was frozen when
the coalition came to power in 2010, but inflation has
eroded its value by 10% since.
Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal
Society, said that depressing funding still further would
damage the economy. "Science is the seedcorn of growth," he
told reporters. "You do not burn the seedcorn when you are
in a difficult situation; you preserve it and that's our
message to government."
TB vaccination expensive and offers little benefit, MPs
TB vaccination is expensive, offers no
guarantee of protection and will provide little benefit in
the immediate future, a committee of MPs has concluded.
In a report
on its inquiry into cattle and badger vaccination the
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee accuses the
Government of failing to sufficiently communicate all the
issues that surround the policy.
This has led to ‘poor public
understanding’ of the vaccines, which are often held by
opponents of the badger cull as credible alternatives.
Guardian, 5 June 2013
MPs urge UK to eat less meat to help
global food supplies
The UK population must be encouraged to
eat less meat "over time" in an effort to make the global
food supply more sustainable, MPs have said.
The International Development Committee
said increased growing of grain to feed cattle was reducing
the resources for nourishing people. And food production
companies that wasted too much should face "clear
sanctions", the MPs said.
BBC News, 4 June 2013
Anti-badger cull rally held in London as
pilot culls begin
Several hundred people have held a rally
in London as licences to cull badgers came into force in two
areas. Up to 5,094 free-running badgers in west Somerset and
west Gloucestershire can now be shot by trained marksmen.
Ex-Queen guitarist Brian May, who led the
rally, said the cull would not make "life any easier for
farmers", adding: "We don't believe it will work."
Farmers believe badgers spread TB and have
led to rising numbers of infected cattle being slaughtered
BBC News, 1 June 2013
GM wheat found growing in US field
US regulators are probing the shock discovery of unlicensed
GM wheat found growing on a farm in Oregon.
The United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched an investigation
after wheat plants survived being sprayed with Monsanto's
Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide.
Further testing by USDA laboratories
indicates the presence of the same GM glyphosate-resistant
wheat variety that Monsanto was authorised to field test in
16 states from 1998 to 2005.
Analysts at Oregon State University
confirmed the presence of GM glyphosate tolerance traits in
the wheat. So far no data on the levels of contamination has
been released, and there is no evidence that contaminated
wheat grains have entered the market.
Farmers Weekly, 30 May 2013
EFSA links fourth pesticide to bee decline
The insecticide fipronil poses a "high acute risk" to bees
when used as a seed treatment for maize, according to the
European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).
The findings, published in an EFSA report
requested by the European Commission, could see potential
restrictions on the use of fipronil. This is the fourth
insecticide used as seed treatment suspected of being
harmful to bees.
Last month the EU announced a ban on the
use of three neonicotinoid insecticides - imidacloprid,
thiamethoxam and clothianidin - from 1 December this year.
"The insecticide fipronil poses a high
acute risk to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for
maize," said EFSA in a statement on Tuesday (28 May).
Farmers Weekly, 29 May 2013
Prince Charles blames horsemeat scandal
on farming standards
The horsemeat scandal and declining public
health are symptoms of a "drive to the bottom" in food
production standards, Prince Charles has said.
Speaking in Germany, the Prince of Wales
said the "aggressive search for cheaper food" should be
replaced by more sustainable production worldwide.
He said farmers were being "driven into
the ground" by low prices, which had led to some "worrying
shortcuts". He also warned low-quality food could lead to
"unaffordable" future costs.
BBC News, 27 May 2013
'Too much emotion in mega-farm debate'
The debate around so-called "mega-farms" must focus on
science rather than emotion if farmers are to produce more
food sustainably, an expert has warned.
Too much emphasis was placed on the perceived welfare and
environmental issues associated with large-scale livestock
production, said Chris Warkup, director of the Biosciences
Knowledge Transfer Network.
Animal welfare campaigners claim
livestock production plans involving farms that would house
thousands of animals are cruel and unethical. But Mr Warkup
said more science had to be brought to the discussion so
decisions by planners, retailers, policy-makers and consumer
could be based on fact.
Farmers Weekly, 25 May 2013
Defra science minister Lord de Mauley
has given the Government’s formal backing to an industry-led
campaign to highlight the critical role of plant breeding
innovation and quality seed in supporting a competitive
farming industry and a dynamic value chain.
The PVR campaign, launched jointly by BSPB and AIC earlier
this year, focuses on the importance of Plant Variety Rights
(PVR) as a unique form of intellectual property which helps
to protect, stimulate and reward progress in crop
Speaking at the BSPB Annual Dinner at the Royal Society in
London earlier this week, Lord de Mauley said: “I am very
pleased to endorse the campaign initiated by BSPB and AIC to
highlight the need for continued investment in plant
breeding as the starting point in the UK’s £90 billion food
supply chain. This initiative chimes exactly with the
Government’s own aim to improve the competitiveness of UK
agriculture through innovation.
Online. 24 May 2013
Former Government chief scientist accuses EU over
Former Chief Government Scientist Professor Sir John Beddington has accused
EU policymakers of misusing the precautionary principle in
their approach to pesticides such as neonicotinoids.
Speaking at the Crop Protection Association’s (CPA)
annual convention, in London, Prof Beddington said EU
attitudes towards pesticides, dating back more than two
decades, were hampering the UK’s ability to produce food.
Farmers Guardian, 22 May 2013
needed to assess agriculture's environmental footprint
and lamb sector is working hard to address environmental
issues, but more work is needed to define how the carbon
footprint of all agricultural sectors is measured to assess
its environmental impact.
statement came from a group of MPs who have been feeding
into an inquiry on the positive and negative effects of
livestock on the environment.
committee, led by Neil Parish MP (Con, Tiverton and
Honiton), revealed more robust scientific data and a
standard model to measure carbon sequestration is needed to
help the beef and lamb sector meet the twin challenges of
sustainable food production and reducing its environmental
Farmers Guardian, 20 May 2013
Large-scale pig farm consultation begins
Plans to build a large-scale pig unit in Derbyshire are to
go under consultation after the proposals were tweaked to
meet the concerns of local residents.
Pig production company Midland Pig
Producers (MPP) said it had slightly altered the layout of
its proposed unit which will house a total of 25,000 pigs
near Foston after listening to local residents' complaints
about previous plans.
It said it was now confident the
application for the £20m project, which would create one of
the UK's largest pig farms, would now get the go-ahead from
Farmers Weekly, 17 May 2013
HDC precision herbicide research moves toward
Precision technology that will allow
reduced herbicide use by accurately identifying and
spot-spraying weeds, developed from research funded by the
Horticultural Development Company (HDC), is to go into
The prototype device combines an
innovative image analysis-based system for identifying a
variety of weeds in row crops, coupled with a choice of two
precision spraying modules to directly apply herbicide
either to single spots or to small patches of weeds
Company, 16 May 2013
UN urges people
to eat insects to fight world hunger
insects could help fight world hunger, according to a new UN
report. The report by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization says that eating insects could help boost
nutrition and reduce pollution.
It notes that over 2 billion people
worldwide already supplement their diet with insects.
However it admits that "consumer disgust" remains a large
barrier in many Western countries.
BBC News, 13 May 2013
Biogas offers alternative fertiliser
Digestate is still a relatively new
source of alternative fertiliser, but with more biogas
plants coming on stream in the UK an increasing number of
farmers are applying it on their land to help reduce
artificial fertiliser costs.
Latest figures from the National
Non-Food Crops Centre and WRAP show there are 106 anaerobic
digestion plants outside the water industry, processing up
to 5.1m tonnes of food and farm waste every year. Around
90-95% of material fed into an AD plant comes out as
digestate, so there is a potentially significant source of
fertiliser for growers to tap into.
13 May 2013
Cambridge-based scientists develop
British scientists say they have developed
a new type of wheat which could increase productivity by
The Cambridge-based National Institute of
Agricultural Botany has combined an ancient ancestor of
wheat with a modern variety to produce a new strain.
In early trials, the resulting crop seemed
bigger and stronger than the current modern wheat varieties.
BBC News, 12 May 2013
Bee decline in UK blamed on intensive farming
Intensive farming and urban development have been identified
as two "key reasons" for bee decline in the UK over recent
years, according to a new study.
Britain has more than 250 bee species,
but numbers have fallen dramatically due to disease, an
increase in chemical use among farmers and habitat loss,
says theIconic Bees report
from the University of Reading, commissioned by Friends of
the Earth (FoE).
The report, published on Thursday (9
May), says ongoing agricultural intensification and change
of landscape represents the "main threat" to some of
Britain's most iconic bees, such as the Large Garden
Bumblebee and the Potter Flower Bee.
But the NFU said the report was an
unfair attack on farming that failed to take into
consideration all the good work farmers have done under
agri-environment schemes to improve farm biodiversity.
Farmers Weekly, 9 May 2013
agri-food safety plan
Brussels has unveiled proposals for a
"landmark package" it says will modernise, simplify and
strengthen food safety across Europe. The reform package
will cover plant health, seeds, animal health, official
controls and a common financial framework for food and feed.
The proposed regulations aim to
simplify, yet strengthen, rules while removing avoidable
duplications and unnecessary burdens, said the European
On plants, the review would help ensure
the health, identity and quality of plant reproductive
material - including seeds and plant propagating material.
Farmers Weekly, 7 May 2013
GMs benefit farmers and consumers, says report
GM crops have delivered economic benefits for farmers,
consumers and the environment since the technology was
introduced 16 years ago, according to a new report.
The study, by UK firm PG Economics, found
that GM insect-resistant crops have delivered higher incomes
through improved yields in all countries where biotech crops
Since the introduction of GM crops in the
mid-1990s, many farmers, especially in developing countries,
have also benefitted from lower costs of production through
less expenditure on pesticides.
Farmers Weekly, 7 May 2013
US rejects EU claim of insecticide as prime reason for bee
A government report
blamed a combination of factors for the disappearance of
America's honeybees on Thursday and did not join Europe in
singling out pesticides as
a prime suspect.
The report, by the Department of
Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, blamed
a parasitic mite, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and
genetics as well as pesticides for the rapid decline of
honey bees since
Researchers said it was not clear whether
a certain class of pesticides was a major cause of the
The Guardian, 3 May 2013
support transition from plant science into practice
Showcasing plant science and making it
accessible to farmers and growers is the aim of a new £2.16
million glasshouse facility and visitor centre in
Cambridgeshire. Defra Science Minister Lord de Mauley
performed the official opening of the facility at NIAB’s
Innovation Farm near Cambridge last week.
As well as supporting the translation
of plant science into practical application, it will also
provide business advice for small and medium-sized
enterprises in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire,
Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk.
Lord de Mauley said the opening of the
new facility was ‘excellent timing’ with the Government’s
recent focus on improving the competitiveness of
agriculture, including encouraging farmers to use new
Farmers Guardian, 2 May 2013
Neonicotinoid decision could set dangerous precedent
The EU decision to
ban pesticides which it says are harmful to bees could be
setting a dangerous precedent for regulatory decision
making, experts have warned.
Protection Association (CPA) said
yesterday’s ruling, which saw the European Commission
temporarily ban three neonicotinoid seed treatments for two
years, was completely ‘at odds’ with field-based research.
CPA chief executive Nick von Westenholz
said the decision ignored trial data which found no evidence
of harmful effects on bees when neonicotinoids were used in
Guardian, 30 April 2013
Bee deaths: EU to ban neonicotinoid
The European Commission will restrict the
use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers,
despite a split among EU states on the issue.
is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee
Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are
believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they
should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and
But many farmers and crop experts argue
that there is insufficient data.
BBC News, 29 April 2013
New hybrid grass
could reduce devastation caused by flooding
believe a new grass hybrid could minimise the impact of
flooding. Researchers used a hybridised species of grass
called perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) with a closely
related species called meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis).
to integrate the rapid establishment and growth rate of the
ryegrass with the large, well developed root systems and
efficient water capture of the meadow fescue.
years of field experiments in the South West, the team
demonstrate the hybrid, named Festulolium, reduced water
runoff from agricultural grassland by up to 51 per cent
compared to a leading UK nationally-recommended perennial
ryegrass cultivar and by 43 per cent compared to meadow
Farmers Guardian, 25 April 2013
Growing urbanisation of the British
countryside is threatening national food production, says
the National Pig Association. There
are concerns that planning applications for traditional
part-time pig units are now meeting with opposition.
"Britain already imports around 60 percent of its pork and
pork products — usually from less welfare-friendly farms —
and this figure is set to rise unless farmers are encouraged
to invest in new more efficient and environmentally-friendly
buildings" the association said.
NPA has identified a growing trend for vegan groups and
other single-interest lobby groups to become involved in
planning applications, using misinformation to frighten
local residents into opposing new and replacement pig farms.
23 April 2013
Researchers at the University of Bolton
have made a molecular-level discovery in plants that could
lead to the development of crops that are more resilient to
Dr Ianis Matsoukas is a molecular physiologist and biology
lecturer at University of Bolton. He
and his research team from Bolton and the University of
Warwick have discovered why, at a molecular level, plants
are unable to flower during the juvenile phase of plant
22 April 2013
Case for GM crops is becoming
‘stronger’, says chief scientist
Sir Mark Walport, who took over as the
government’s chief scientific adviser a few weeks ago, said
the rise of GM was “inexorable”.
Sir Mark, who took over from his predecessor Sir John
Beddington this month, spelled out his belief that the
genetic modification of crops had important potential
benefits for humankind.
Speaking publicly for the first time
in the post, David Cameron’s personal scientitific adviser
said evidence on the benefits of farming GM crops was
becoming “stronger and stronger” as the technology started
“showing its value”. He said the crops could potentially
help address the world’s food crisis as farmers struggle to
meet growing demand.
The Telegraph, 19 April 2013
World’s Gene Pool Crucial for
making the most of the planet's wealth of genetic resources
will be crucial for survival, as people will need to produce
sufficient and nutritious food for a growing population, FAO
Deputy Director-General Dan Gustafson said, addressing the
Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
the only intergovernmental body to specifically address all
matters related to the world's gene pool for food and
agriculture, is marking its 30th anniversary and is meeting
in Rome this week.
that adaptation of the agriculture sector is not merely an
option, but an imperative for human survival, and genetic
resources will form an essential part of any adaptation
strategy," he said.
The Crop Site, 17 April 2013
Pig born using new GM approach
The laboratory which created Dolly the sheep has produced a
disease-resistant piglet using a new technique which is
simpler than cloning and could bring GM meat a step closer.
The piglet, known
only as "Pig 26", was the first animal to be created via
"gene editing" when it was born four months ago at
Edinburgh's Roslin Institute.
The new technique, which is faster and
more efficient than existing methods, avoids one of the
major concerns of anti-GM campaigners because it does not
involve the use of antibiotic-resistance genes. Scientists
hope it could make genetic engineering of livestock more
acceptable to the public and be key to the challenge of
feeding the growing global population.
The Telegraph, 16 April 2013
Biofuels: ‘Irrational’ and ‘worse than
The UK's "irrational" use of biofuels will
cost motorists around £460 million over the next 12 months,
a think tank says.
by Chatham House says
the growing reliance on sustainable liquid fuels will also
increase food prices.
The author says
that biodiesel made from vegetable oil was worse for the
climate than fossil fuels.
News, 15 April 2013
World food prices
rise year on year
Although UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation figures suggest food prices remained stable for
the past 5 months, with little fluctuation between October
2012 and March this year, when prices rose one percent,
researchers in the United States claim that longer-term
analysis shows prices are rising year on year.
Researchers from the Worldwatch
Institute in Washington DC announced on Thursday that prices
have been increasing steadily for the past decade.
According to the Washington DC-based
research group, prices rose 2.7 percent in 2012, reaching
levels not seen since the 1960s and 1970s but still well
below the price spike of 1974.
Farming Online, 12 April 2013
Waitrose bans use
banning its suppliers from using neonicotinoids on produce
destined for the supermarket. The retailer is asking
growers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to stop using the
pesticides by the end of 2014, due to their alleged effects
said the restriction on use is a ‘precautionary measure and
will remain in place until scientists can demonstrate
conclusively whether or not the formulations are adversely
affecting populations of pollinator insects’.
approach will also be rolled out progressively to commodity
crops such as oil seed rape on the Waitrose Farm at Leckford
in Hampshire and ‘as soon as practicable’ to other areas of
the arable sector which supply Waitrose.
Farmers Guardian, 12 April 2013
Tesco drops non-GM specification for egg and poultry
The supermarket has published a letter
to consumers from Tim J Smith, group technical director,
explaining its own-label fresh and frozen chicken and hens
had been fed non-GM as a condition of suppliers' contracts.
This specification has now been dropped.
"Over recent weeks UK poultry and egg
suppliers have been telling retailers that it is
increasingly difficult for them to guarantee that the feed
they use is entirely GM free," said the letter.
Mr Smith explains the difficulty is down
to the amount of non-GM soya now available: "There simply
isn't enough non-GM feed available. It is a global supply
issue - 80% of the world's soya is now modified."
Farmers Weekly, 11 April 2013
Higher levels of
healthy compound in Beneforté broccoli
and genetic studies have shown that a new variety of
broccoli developed by BBSRC-funded scientists reliably
yields higher levels of a health-promoting compound.
contains a compound called glucoraphanin, which has been
shown to promote health by maintaining cardiovascular health
and a reduction in the risk of cancer. A long term breeding
programme to increase glucoraphanin levels has resulted in
the commercial release of Beneforté broccoli. Beneforté was
developed by crossing standard broccoli with a wild relative
derived from Sicily.
BBSRC, 10 April 2013
Could wheat be made more like maize?
could potentially double as scientists seek to make the
crop's efficiency of photosynthesis similar to that of maize
plants. Maize draws in more carbon dioxide than wheat does,
making it twice as efficient at transforming light energy
into biomass and hence yield.
Rothamsted Research see improving the photosynthesis of
wheat as key after setting out a programme to raise top
yields by a third. They are
confident this yield lift can be reached without using
genetic modification (GM) technology, although GM is being
used in the laboratory to map particular traits.
Farmers Weekly, 8 April 2013
Britain ‘running out of wheat’ owing to
Britain will become a net importer of
wheat for the first time in a decade this year because of
bad weather, the National Farmers' Union has said.
NFU president Peter Kendall said more than
two million tonnes of wheat had been lost because of last
year's poor summer. The prolonged cold weather would also
hit this autumn's harvest, he said.
But he said the shortage was unlikely to
affect the price of bread because of the global nature of
BBC News, 6 April 2013
Bee-harming pesticides should be banned,
The UK environment secretary, Owen
Paterson, must end his department's "extraordinary
complacency" and suspend the use of pesticides linked
to serious harm in bees,
according to a damning report from an influential
cross-party committee of MPs.
The UK is blocking attempts to introduce
a Europe-wide ban on the world's most widely used
insecticides, neonicotinoids. But MPs on parliament's green
watchdog, the environmental
audit committee (EAC),
said the government was relying on "fundamentally flawed"
studies and failing to uphold its own precautionary
"The environment department seems to be
taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting
bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide
to our economy," said Joan Walley, the chair of the EAC. "We
believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants
The EAC report concluded that by the
start of 2014 the UK government must enforce a moratorium on
the use of three neonicotinoids on the flowering crops that
bees and other pollinators feed on, such as corn and oilseed
Guardian, 5 April 2013
Sainsbury’s to fund broiler feed
Agricultural consultant ADAS has
received a substantial grant from the Sainsbury's Innovation
Fund to examine the extent to which higher levels of
UK-produced rapeseed meal can be substituted for soya bean
meal in broiler diets. The aim is to reduce the
environmental impact and improve the sustainability of
poultrymeat production, without compromising productivity or
"The project addresses concerns about
the continuing use of imported soya bean meal due to the
potential negative environmental impact of production in
third countries, as well as the scarcity of supply of non-GM
soya bean meal," said a statement.
Farmers Weekly, 1 April 2013
Defra conclude neonicotinoids pose 'low' risk to bees
DEFRA has published two pieces of research
suggesting the risk of neonicotinoids seed treatments to bee
populations in the field is low.
The two pieces of research, including a
field trial from the Food and Environment Research Agency
(Fera), contradict the findings of an EU risk assessment are
likely to reinforce the UK’s opposition to a proposed EU
Commission is planning to suspend the use of three
neonicotinoid products -
imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin - for two years
from as soon as this July.
Guardian, 27 March 2013
Rothamsted applies for autumn GM
first open field trial of autumn-sown GM wheat could get
under way later this year. Rothamsted Research has submitted
an application to DEFRA to plant autumn-sown wheat as part
of its GM wheat trial.
believe the extension of the trial would allow them to study
the effects of autumn aphid infestations on their
experimental aphid-repelling wheat. They say autumn-sown
Cadenza wheat engineered to repel aphids - a major crop pest
- would allow them to gain further data for the experiment.
Farmers Weekly, 25 March 2013
Prof Sir John Beddington warns of
floods, droughts and storms
The government's chief scientist has said
that there is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere for there
to be more floods and droughts over the next 25 years.
Prof Sir John Beddington said there was a
"need for urgency" in tackling climate change. He said that
the later governments left it, the harder it would be to
Prof Beddington made his comments in the
final week of his tenure as the government's chief
BBC News, 25 March 2013
Farming key to
the rural economy can be at the centre of the UK’s ‘economic
renaissance’, according to an East Anglia MP. George
Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, was talking at the
British Guild of Agricultural Journalists AGM at the Tower
spoke about the Government’s life sciences strategy and how
he believes the country can play a key role in the future of
global agricultural research.
“The rural economy can be the crucible of rural renaissance
for small businesses. We are on the cusp of real
opportunities with the right government policy in place.UK
food and farming can be a strategic sector for the economy
and is part of a sustainable recovery. Agricultural
research, technology and science can be the jewel in the
crown of our wider life sciences research base.”
Farmers Guardian, 24 March 2013
Heath hits out at 'international hypocrisy' on GM
Farming Minister David Heath has hit out
at the ‘international hypocrisy’ he claims exists over the
rules surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops. Mr Heath
said he had always been ‘extremely cautious’ about GM
technology because of the ‘need to be clear about the human
health and environmental implications’.
But, speaking at the International Food
Exhibition, in London, this week he said the evidence was
there that GM crops had been grown over a ‘very large part
of the world for a very long time without those effects
being manifest’. Specific GM applications therefore ought to
be considered on their own merit,” he said.
“There is a moral duty to look at every
possibility to see if there are things we can do safely and
better than we do now to meet the challenge of feeding a
hugely increased population with sustainable techniques,” he
Guardian, 21 March 2013
Consumers will shape the future, says food survey
Nearly one in five food industry
representatives do not monitor or measure the sustainability
of the food products they source, according to a new survey.
The Driving Sustainability report, from
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) launched yesterday,
provides a unique insight into the challenges facing farmers
and the food industry in producing sustainable food.
It surveyed nearly 1,000 representatives from across the
food industry and questioned more than 150 LEAF farmers
about how they are addressing sustainability.
show that while 82 per cent of the food industry
representatives agree sustainability is very important to
their company, one in five (19 per cent) do not monitor or
measure the sustainability of food products they source.
U.N. bodies want to tackle drought to avert food crisis
agencies want to strengthen national drought policies after
warnings that climate change would increase their frequency
and severity. Droughts cause more deaths and displacement
than floods or earthquakes, making them the world's most
destructive natural hazard, according to the Food and
Agriculture Organisation, one of the groups taking part.
boost national capacity to cope before droughts occur," Ann
Tutwiler, FAO deputy director-general told the five-day
talks on drought in Geneva attended by scientists,
politicians and development agencies.
shift towards such policies, we face the prospect of
repeated humanitarian catastrophes and the repeated threat
of drought to global food security."
Reuters, 15 March 2013
EU Standing Committee delivers ‘no
opinion’ on neonicotinoids
Member States have failed to reach a
qualified majority in a vote potentially leading to a ban on
the use of neonicotinoid based pesticides on crops
attractive to bees. The European Commission’s Appeal
Committee will now decide the fate of this important
Friedhelm Schmider Director General of the European Crop
Protection Association commenting after the Standing
Committee on the food chain and animal health (SCFCAH) vote:
“ECPA would like to highlight that the proposal to ban
neonicotinoids did not receive a qualified majority at the
Standing Committee. This shows that Member States are
doubtful about the proportionality of the measures proposed
by the Commission. The measures would clearly have an impact
on expected yield, economic growth and jobs with no
improvement on bee health”.
Farm Business, 15 March 2013
'Valley of death’ devours science ventures
Britain is failing to secure the economic
benefits of its world-class scientific research because the
government has “no coherent innovation policy” for
commercialising discoveries, MPs have warned. The Commons
science and technology committee said a “valley of death”
was blocking the progress of scientific innovations from the
laboratory to commercially successful businesses.
The cross-party committee expressed concern that
many British technology start-ups are bought up by larger
overseas companies before they can develop into thriving
businesses that create jobs and wealth in the UK.
Andrew Miller, committee chairman, said: “The UK’s
university and science sector is a global success, but the
challenge for government is how that world class academic
research can be translated into commercial activity.
“British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of
access to financial support and a system that often forces
them to sell out to private equity investors or larger
foreign companies to get ideas off the ground."
Financial Times, 13 March
More nitrogen could benefit wheat
A fear of applying too much nitrogen
(N) and falling foul of cross-compliance rules could be one
reason why wheat yields have remained largely unchanged in
recent years, prompting calls for a rethink on rates.
Data analysis carried out as part of the
HGCA yield plateau project suggest that modern elite
varieties of wheat need an extra 20kg of N/ha for every
extra 1t of yield, says HGCA research and knowledge transfer
manager Paul Gosling.
"We are almost certainly starving some
of our wheat crops of nitrogen," he says. Over the period
1983 to 2009, the average national use of nitrogen
fertiliser on wheat has remained static, while requirements
12 March 2013
'Farming promotes antibiotic
resistance in humans'
chief medical officer has blamed the overuse of antibiotics
in livestock farming for contributing to resistance in drugs
used in human medicine.
Sally Davies described resistance to antibiotics as a
"ticking timebomb" and she urged the government to take the
threat of resistance as seriously as the threat of
that routine operations could potentially become deadly in
as little as 10-20 years.
Farmers Weekly, 11 March 2013
health and welfare, a key factor in a multi-billion pound
food industry, will be boosted with the building of a new
already begun on the £14M National Avian Research Facility
(NARF) at the University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush campus.
will be made available to both national and international
researchers studying issues affecting avian health, such as
the spread of infections. This is paramount in an
industry worth five per cent of the world-market food value
and rising demand for food from a growing population.
BBSRC, 11 March 2013
McDonald’s unveils free tool to give
beef farmers a digital advantage
McDonald’s UK has today launched a bespoke
carbon tool for the beef sector, as part of a £1 million investment
in helping beef farmers in Britain and Ireland improve their
environmental performance and realise greater efficiencies.
For the first time, the innovative ‘What
If?’ tool will enable farmers to measure the carbon
emissions produced per kilo of beef, and benchmark their
score against top performing farms.
Business, 8 March 2013
genetic code cracked
British scientists have cracked the
genetic code of the ash dieback
fungus, raising hopes that the disease can be beaten.
Scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) and the John
Innes Centre in Norwich sampled the pith from a twig,
extracted RNA and sequenced it.
cuttings of infected ash in Ashwellthorpe wood in Norfolk,
where the fungus was first identified in the natural
environment in the UK. They hope genome sequences of three
samples of the fungus will shed light on the infection
process and reveal clues to the origins of the disease.
Farmers Weekly, 8 March 2013
vaccine field trial under way
A field trial is under way in Ireland
aimed at developing an oral TB badger vaccine, scientists have revealed.
agencies, including DEFRA, FERA and the AHVLA, are working
together with researchers in the Republic of Ireland and New
Zealand to develop an oral vaccine.
The key areas
of work include formulation and bait development, efficacy
and safety studies and field deployment studies aimed at
producing data to submit an application for a licensed
7 March 2013
Research could help bees communicate
one day be able to communicate their poor health to
beekeepers thanks to a £1.2m (€1.4m) research project.
It is hoped the
research, which has been led by Nottingham Trent University
and the Bee Farmers Association of the United Kingdom (BFA),
may halt the decline of honeybee populations in Europe.
study aims to monitor and decode the buzzing of bees in the
hive and pass crucial information to beekeepers via wireless
Farmers Guardian, 5 March 2013
UK must adapt for
weather extremes, says Environment Agency
Britain must become more resilient to
both drought and flooding, Environment Agency chairman Chris
Smith has said. New figures from the agency show that one in
every five days saw flooding in 2012, but one in four days
Rivers such as the Tyne, Ouse and Tone
fell to their lowest and rose to their highest flows since
records began, within a four-month period of the year.
Lord Smith said urgent action was vital
to help "prepare and adapt" many aspects of Britain for such
News, 4 March 2013
Schmallenberg figures grow as farmers wait on vaccine
New government figures have revealed the
Schmallenberg virus has spread to more than 1,500 farms in
the UK with the disease moving progressively northwards. The
virus has been reported in all counties of England, Wales
and Northern Ireland and may begin to circulate in Scotland
The disease, which leads to lambs and calves being stillborn
or deformed, led to widespread worry in the early lambing
season with figures indicating up to a 60% loss being
suffered by early flocks. Farmers began to complain over the
lack of information released by Defra but the Animal Health
and Veterinary Laboratories Agency newly reported over 1,531
infected farms, a 26% increase from January figures.
1 March 2013
New group to advise Barroso on science, technology
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced
on Wednesday (27 February) the creation of an advisory group
on science and technology, 13 months after the appointment
of the Commission’s first scientific advisor.
The Science and Technology Advisory Council includes a
cross-section of advisors – from universities,
non-governmental groups and businesses. The council is to
provide independent information and advice on an array of
scientific and technology issues.
The creation of the council and the earlier appointment of a
staff science advisor reflect both the Commission's
increasing focus on science and technology to boost European
competitiveness, but also a need to deal with political
minefields such as genetically modified crops, biofuels and
Euractiv, 28 February 2013
Neonicotinoids decision must not be rushed - Paterson
Owen Paterson has urged the EU health
commissioner not to rush into a decision on the use of
neonicotinoids.The Secretary of State wants a decision on
the insecticides' future use to be based on data gathered in
a field, not in a laboratory, and lobbied EU health
commissioner Tonio Borg on the issue in February.
“We are assessing field data using real bees, real fields
and real conditions and I hope there will be no rushed
decision before our field data is published,” he said.
“We’ve always got to look at the impact of a very
significant reduction in yields and the dangers of a fall
back on older pesticides developed in the 60s and 70s.”
Farming UK, 27 February 2013
GM decisions should be based on 'real' data - Owen Paterson
At the 2013 NFU
Conference the Defra Secretary said any decisions which
could affect farmers’ profitability should be based on
sound, scientific evidence rather than knee jerk reactions.
relation to comments made about the restrictions on
Genetically Modified (GM) crops and a potential ban on
neonicotinoids, Owen Paterson said ‘real’ data had to be
taken into account.
said the potential ban on neonicotinoids, which could come
into effect in July, would be based on lab data rather than
‘actual field data’ which is being carried out in the UK.
Farmers Guardian, 27 February 2013
Farmers must play their part to stop
As the world’s
largest users and wasters of water, farmers must improve
operations in the battle against water scarcity, leading
food experts said.
Speaking at the
annual City Food Lecture in London last night (Monday),
Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke and champion for the UK’s Global Food
Security Programme, Prof Tim Benton, said poor irrigation
techniques and biofuel production were two of the main
drivers of the ‘water crisis’.
Mr Bulcke said
first generation biofuels (those made from food crops
including wheat, oilseed rape, and sugar beet), caused
‘collateral damage’ as they competed for water against crops
grown for food.
Farmers Guardian, 26 February 2013
Developing countries plant most GM
countries grew more hectares of GM crops last year than
industrialised countries but the USA remains the world's
largest grower, according to a new report.
nations planted 52% of the global biotech crops in 2012, up
from 50% a year earlier and above the 48% industrial
countries grew last year, according to a report by the
pro-GM International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).
farmers grew a record 170.3m hectares of biotech crops - up
6%, or 10.3m hectares more than in 2011.
Farmers Weekly, 21 February 2013
UNEP study calls for smarter nutrient use to avoid
The authors of a new report commissioned by the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have urged policy
makers to roll out sustainable agriculture techniques, which
they claim are "already available but typically not yet
applied," and suggested consumers cut their meat intake to
limit the damaging effects of modern farming on the
Our Nutrient World,
highlights how humans have massively altered natural flows
of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients. It shows that,
while this has had huge benefits for world food and energy
production, it has also created "a web of water and air
pollution that is damaging human health, causing toxic algal
blooms, killing fish, threatening sensitive ecosystems and
contributing to climate change."
Farming Online, 18 February 2013
Badger cull 'will not stop TB in cattle' says new research
New research conducted by Durham
University has claimed a 'widespread badger cull' will have
no impact in solving the problem of tuberculosis in cattle.
It has been claimed that controlling badger numbers would
reduce the risk of TB in cattle and a cull is due to begin
in the summer after the government announced a temporary ban
Professor Peter Atkins, from Durham University's Institute
of Hazard, Risk and Resilience has investigated the spread
of the disease in new research. "Badgers almost certainly
play a part in spreading the disease, but my conclusion is
that their impact over the decades has been far less than
suggested" said Atkins.
15 February 2013
Planting wildflowers on farmland helps spiders
help control crop pests by encouraging spider populations,
according to new research. Scientists found that growing
wildflowers on non-crop buffer strips of grass increased
spider numbers, which feed on crop pests like aphids.
However the research also showed that
simply planting wildflower seeds into existing grass buffer
strips is not enough, because grasses already dominate the
area. To encourage wildflowers to grow, the researchers
cultivated the grass strips before planting wildflower
seeds, and used a selective herbicide that reduces grass
BBSRC, 14 February 2013
Horsemeat crisis caught government
The UK's ability to respond to the
horsemeat crisis has been
undermined by a lack of clarity over the role of the Food
Standards Agency, according to MPs.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee said
moving responsibility for nutrition policy and labelling
away from the FSA to the Department of Health in 2010 had
given the agency a "diminished role".
the current contamination crisis had caught the FSA and
government flat-footed and unable to respond effectively.
14 February 2013
Horsemeat scandal: EU urges DNA tests of
The EU is urging members to conduct
random tests to tackle a widening scandal over mislabelled
horsemeat. All members should carry out DNA tests on
processed beef for traces of horsemeat for three months from
1 March, the health commissioner said.
Horsemeat should also be tested for the
presence of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone ("bute"),
he added. Tonio Borg was speaking after a meeting with
ministers from the UK, France and other affected countries
13 February 2013
UK could go it alone on GM – Paterson
member states should be allowed to make the decision on
whether to adopt GM, according to Defra secretary Owen
In a bid to
pave the way for the UK to go it alone on the technology, he
has begun talks on this "single state" approach with EU
health and consumer policy commissioner Tonio Borg
Farmers Weekly, 9 February 2013
UK vets have
‘repeatedly raised concerns’ over bute in food
An independent veterinary committee had
"repeatedly expressed concern" about a drug found in UK
horsemeat destined for export, the BBC has learned.
The discovery of horsemeat in UK
foodstuffs is raising big concerns that UK testing regimes
are not sufficient. There are worries that if unregulated
horsemeat is substituted for beef it could expose people to
a drug called phenylbutazone - often called "bute".
News, 8 February 2013
After 30 years, is a GM food breakthrough finally here?
Scientists say they have seen the future of genetically
modified foods and have concluded that it is orange or, more
precisely, golden. In a few months, golden rice – normal
rice that has been genetically modified to provide vitamin A
to counter blindness and other diseases in children in the
developing world – will be given to farmers in the
Philippines for planting in paddy fields.
Thirty years after scientists first revealed they had
created the world's first GM crop, hopes that their
potential to ease global malnutrition problems may be
realised at last. Bangladesh and Indonesia have indicated
they are ready to accept golden rice in the wake of the
Philippines' decision, and other nations, including India,
have also said that they are considering planting it.
Observer, 3 February 2013
pesticides linked to bee decline should be restricted
The European Commission has proposed
that member states restrict the use of certain classes of
pesticide that are believed to be harmful to bees.
Sprays that use neonicotinoid chemicals
should only be used on crops that are not attractive to the
insects they said. The sale of seeds treated with these
chemicals should also be prohibited.
Bayer, one of the companies who make
the pesticides, says they are convinced they can be used
without harm to bees.
News, 31 January 2013
BASF halts EU
approval process for GM potatoes
BASF, the world's biggest
chemicals company, has decided to no longer seek EU approval
of its genetically modified (GM) potato products in the face
of stiff resistance.
BASF said in a statement it will
"discontinue the pursuit of regulatory approvals for the
Fortuna, Amadea, and Modena potato
projects in Europe because continued investment cannot be
justified due to uncertainty in the regulatory environment
and threats of field destructions."
Agra-Net, 29 January 2013
Omega-3 can help laying hens avoid
Most of us are
aware of the potential health benefits of omega-3 found in
fish oil and flax seed. Now researchers have found that
omega-3 could help laying hens avoid bone damage, which
affects millions of hens each year, and the research may
also help human patients suffering from osteoporosis.
research project, led by Dr John Tarlton and colleagues from
the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences,
investigated the benefits of omega-3 supplemented diets in
laying hens. They looked at the full biochemical and
cellular mechanisms through which omega-3 is able to improve
bone health. This study, published in the journal BONE,
could also have potential benefits for human osteoporosis, a
disease that affects almost three million people in the UK.
Sugar-rich willow can boost biofuels’
have identified willow trees that yield five times as much
sugar as ordinary varieties, "drastically reducing" the
impact of biofuels. UK researchers found that if the trees
grew at an angle, they produced a special kind of wood that
resulted in the higher sugar content.
short rotation coppice crop, is widely grown as a source for
the biofuel and biomass industries. The findings appear in
the Biotechnology for Biofuels journal.
BBC News, 25 January 2013
UN launches global project to tackle
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has launched a
new campaign to cut food waste, which it says could
dramatically reduce the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or
wasted each year.
The campaign: Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint aims
to reduce food waste to tackle poverty, improve
sustainability and help achieve the first Millenium
Development Goal of drastically reducing hunger around the
world. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by
consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.
Farming Online, 23 January 2013
Biofuel targets driving global hunger crisis, churches and
The rush to power cars with “green”
fuel is contributing to a global hunger crisis threatening
to envelop almost a billion young people, almost 100
charities and religious groups warn today.
Targets to boost biofuel production have encouraged
multinational companies to buy up land in the developing
world, forcing some of the world’s poorest people further
into poverty, it is claimed.
The warning comes in a report by a new coalition of
charities and faith groups backed by figures such as Bill
Gates, the Microsoft founder, and the South African Nobel
Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.
The Telegraph, 23 January 2013
Wasps v moths: Biocontrol uses nature
against crop pests
Blinking in the blazing Brazilian sun,
a farmer looks up at the sound of an aeroplane, flying low
over his sugarcane plantation in Sao Paulo. A hatch suddenly
opens, and a white cloud emerges. It may look like
pesticide, but these are live eggs falling down - from
Once hatched and grown, the insects
inject their own eggs into those of the sugarcane borer - a
moth that in its caterpillar stage eats valuable plants -
preventing the pest from hatching. A number of farmers in
Brazil have swapped chemicals for wasps, in a country that
has recently outgrown the US as the largest consumer of
The biotechnology firm that is fighting
nature with nature - what is known as biocontrol - is Bug
Agentes Biologicos, or simply Bug, based in Piracicaba, Sao
22 January 2013
agricultural innovation to begin
A 13-year agricultural science and
technology innovation project will be launched this year to
improve the country's level of technology and international
competitiveness, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural
Sciences announced on Jan 21.
Research items under the project will
cover prominent agricultural problems in China, such as
breeding, animal epidemic disease control, and quality
standards on agricultural products, said Li Jiayang,
vice-minister of agriculture and president of the Chinese
Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
"For China, developing agricultural
technology is a core issue to ensure sufficient supply of
high quality, safe agricultural products in the future," he
said at a news conference in Beijing.
Rising food demand from population
growth, decrease in arable land and water shortages are
major challenges the country must address, he said.
Daily, 21 January 2013
New Plant Variety Rights trademark
launched to promote plant breeding and seed innovation
A new information campaign to highlight
the critical role of plant breeding innovation and quality
seed moved a step closer this week as participating seed
companies and plant breeders unveiled the new EU-registered
PVR trademark for the first time at the LAMMA event in
Initiated jointly by BSPB and AIC on behalf of the UK plant
breeding and seeds sector, the campaign will focus on the
importance of Plant Variety Rights (PVR) as a unique form of
intellectual property to protect, stimulate and reward
progress in crop improvement.
The PVR trademark will soon start appearing across the seed
industry on seed bags, stationery, invoices, websites,
variety boards and marketing material. Supporting
information about Plant Variety Rights, plant breeding and
seed production will be provided through a dedicated
campaign website and literature, as part of a wider drive to
highlight the vital contribution of our plant breeding and
Seedquest, 16 January 2013
EC launches consultation on future of organic sector
Does organic, by definition, have to mean GM-free? That is
the one of the questions the European Commission is asking
in a new EU-wide public consultation on the future of
organic food production in Europe, which launched today.
The online consultation asks EU citizen for their views on a
range of issues affecting the organic sector and its
production standards, including pesticide levels, animal
welfare standards and awareness levels of the EU organic
The Grocer, 15 January 2013
Neonicotinoid ban could cost farmers
be hit for millions of pounds if restrictions on
neonicotinoid seed treatments are introduced in the UK, a
new report warns.
Up to £630m
could be lost from the UK economy each year if
neonicotinoids are withdrawn, says the study published by
the EU's Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture (HFFA) and
commissioned by Syngenta and Bayer CropScience.
penalties of up to 20% for oilseed rape, sugar beet and
cereal crops could ensue, which could make winter wheat an
unprofitable crop for many British growers and its
production unfeasible in areas of high pest pressure, the
14 January 2013
Synthetic farm virus built in lab
A synthetic version of the
Schmallenberg virus has been made in the laboratory by
Scottish scientists. The research raises hopes for
developing a vaccine for the livestock disease, which causes
lambs and calves to be stillborn.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was
discovered little more than a year ago in Germany, but has
now spread to several European countries. About 1,000 farms
have reported cases across England and Wales. Some farmers
are reporting heavy losses as the lambing season gets
News, 11 January 2013
virus 'costing farms thousands'
First indications of the full impact of
Schmallenberg disease are starting to emerge, with some
sheep flocks reporting up to 50% lamb losses, costing their
businesses thousands of pounds.
Industry organisations are worried the
impact of the disease could be worse than initially expected
for some producers, with others describing the virus as
worse than Bluetongue.
The government is under pressure to
approve a vaccine. And while the chief veterinary officer
for England, Nigel Gibbens, has described the disease as
"low impact", producers are insistent it is not the case at
11 January 2013
Warning over DEFRA pesticide plan
Government ministers have failed to grasp the seriousness of
challenges posed by the withdrawal of important pesticides,
scientists and farm leaders have warned.
More research in alternative crop
protection is needed to meet demand for food as pesticides
are taken off the market due to European legislation, DEFRA
has been told.
The warning is contained in an open letter
to farm minister David Heath from processor Toby Bruce, of
the Association of Applied Biologists, and NFU president
10 January 2013
We throw away half our food
Up to half of all food is still
wasted due to overly strict sell-by dates and the refusal of
supermarkets to sell produce which doesn't look cosmetically
perfect, a new report claims. The Institution of Mechanical
Engineers estimated that between 30 and 50 per cent of food
produced around the globe, or 1.2 to two billion tonnes each
year, never reaches a human mouth.
Vast quantities of produce from developing countries is lost
due to poor storage or inefficient farming, while wasteful
behaviour by consumers and supermarkets means half of all
food bought in the west is thrown away. As many as 30 per
cent of UK vegetable crops are not even harvested because
they do not meet retailers’ stringent demands on appearance,
which are based on what customers will accept.
The Telegraph, 10 January 2013
Two-thirds of British consumers say GM food labelling is
Two-thirds of the British public say it is "important" that
genetically modified ingredients are labelled on food,
according to a survey published on Wednesday by the
government's Food Standards Agency (FSA), despite only a
tiny number saying they look for GM information on labels.
The findings, drawn from interviews with 1,467 people for a
report by the food watchdog on GM labelling, will be a
"major blow" to the government's bid to win public
acceptance for GM crops and food, anti-GM campaigners said.
The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, last week told a
farming conference: "we should not be afraid of making the
case to the public about the potential benefits of GM."
The Guardian, 9 January 2013
Animal health in Scotland given £10m
research has been given a £10m boost from the Scottish
Government. The Roslin Institute will use the funding to
help develop an international livestock improvement centre.
Secretary for Education Michael Russell said: “Scotland has
great strength and expertise across many research fields and
the Roslin Institute is leading the way in the animal health
sector. We want to build on existing excellence to develop
our reputation in research and maximise the benefits for our
“By investing in our research and development capacity, we
will help sustain and improve Scotland’s livestock industry
while leading efforts to relieve poverty in developing
countries. It will position Scotland at the forefront of
animal science research across the globe.”
Farmers Guardian, 7 January 2013
Food prices to rise sharply, says Waitrose boss
The price of basic food items could
rise by as much as five per cent this year because of
miserable weather last autumn, the managing director of
Waitrose has warned.
Mark Price said food price inflation is already hovering at
three to three and a half per cent, but this is just "the
tip of the iceberg" and prices could increase even more
dramatically over the coming months.
Produce such as bread and vegetables will become up to five
per cent more expensive because of poor crop yields leading
to a shortage of supply, he warned.
The Telegraph, 4 January 2013
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson tells
farmers to push GM
The Government will promote the benefits of genetically
modified crops aspart
of the drive to modernise farming in the UK, Owen Paterson,
the Environment Secretary, has said. The Cabinet minister in
charge of food and farming has already made clear he backs
the controversial technology. In a speech to the Oxford
Farming Conference, he is expected to say that farmers,
policy makers and scientists have a duty to turn around the
image of GM.
“We should not be afraid of making the case to the public
about the potential benefits of GM beyond the food chain,
for example, reducing the use of pesticides and inputs such
as diesel,” he said. “I believe that GM offers great
opportunities but I also recognise that we owe a duty to the
public to reassure them that it is a safe and beneficial
The Telegraph, 3 January 2013