THE GOVERNMENT has published its plans to exploit the commercial, scientific and environmental potential of non-food crops.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty launched a long-term strategy to create more demand for and use of renewable raw materials made from non-food crops.

Medicines, plastics, tyres, car parts, cosmetics and clothes can all be made from crops such as hemp, wheat and oilseed rape, which are also a source of cleaner energy and fuel and a range of renewable materials.

The joint strategy from DEFRA and the Department of Trade and Industry is aimed at increasing commercial opportunities, stimulating innovation, cutting waste and environmental damage, and protecting precious natural resources.

DEFRA has doubled its funding for non-food crops research to £2million a year, with an extra £1.3million to promote innovation.

Lord Whitty said: “This is an important sector with huge potential.  The UK‘s world-class bioscience know-how puts us in a strong position to seize the exciting opportunities non-food crops present.

“We need to turn good ideas into real products that industry wants to make and people want to buy.”

“Through our National Non-Food Crops Centre, which is a nucleus for the industry, we can turn our vision for the commercial exploitation of the science into a reality,” Lord Whitty said.

Trade and industry mnister Nigel Griffiths added: “A concerted approach is needed to build the necessary links between science, agriculture and industry to spread knowledge and galvanise action.”

“Government will work with industry, academics, scientists, farmers and consumers to promote awareness of products derived from crops, to identify new commercial opportunities, and to help develop a supply chain that meets the needs of the market.”