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Science and technology needed to help feed growing population

Leading figures in science, farming and food meet to debate how Agri-tech strategy funding can help world food security

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Lady with clipboard from UK strategy for agricultural technologies: executive summary

Urgent action is needed to develop the new technologies that will help provide enough food for a growing population, Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said today.

The Minister met with leading figures from the worlds of science, farming and food at the Science Museum in London to debate how the Government’s £160million investment in a new Agricultural-Technologies strategy should be used to respond to the growing challenges of world food security.

The Food for Thought event has been convened jointly by the Science Museum, Defra and the Met Office. It will consider how a £70million 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.

Environment Minister Lord De Mauley said:

Agri-technologies have the potential to transform food production in Britain.

Demand for food is rising rapidly and time is not on our side. We have a world class science and technology sector. Breakthroughs in nutrition, genetics, and precision farming mean the sector is one of the world’s fastest growing and exciting markets. Now we need to ensure this innovation is converted into practical tools that deliver in the field.

The government is investing millions of pounds into making this a reality. The challenge for the business and research community now is to identify where investment can best help us meet the challenges of growing more food in a sustainable way and help our agricultural industry compete in the global race.

With the planet’s population due to hit 9 billion by 2050, it’s estimated that we will need a 70% global increase in food production by 2050.

The Agri-Tech Strategy champions the role our science and technology industry can play in the global race to increase food production, improve the environment, minimise waste and boost competition.

Ian Blatchford Director of the Science Museum said:

Science holds the key to meeting the global challenge of feeding a growing population in a sustainable way. We’re delighted to be bringing together the scientists, policy makers and industry experts who will keep the UK at the forefront of innovation in agri-technology over the next decade.

Phil Evans Government Services Director at the Met Office said:

Weather has a real impact on farming and climate change will increase future pressure on production. The Met Office has a long history of translating its science to provide services to decision making. We hope this established expertise can be used to help the agricultural industry become more resilient.

Lord de Mauley was joined at the event today by SesVanderhave UK Ltd, Bayer Crops Science, Which, Royal Agricultural University and the National Farmers Union.

Further information:

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement.

The Agri-Tech Catalyst

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is being delivered by the Technology Strategy Board in partnership with BBSRC, and is open for bids until 11 December (registration closes on the 4 December). Funding will be provided for SMEs and academics to develop solutions to agri-tech challenges, such as adapting agricultural practices to cope with climate change, world-wide. More details of the Agri-Tech Catalyst, including the application process for the various funding awards, can be found at the Technology Strategy Board

Published 27 November 2013