The EU must do more to embrace scientific advances in agriculture if it wants to avert a future food crisis, says the Crop Protection Association.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the association, warned that Europe could be “sleepwalking into a food crisis” unless it changed its “anti-science” stance towards agriculture.

He stressed there was an urgent need to embrace developments in agricultural science and technology to avert the dangers of shocks and disruptions to our food supply system.

Speaking at a British Chamber of Commerce Roundtable Debate in Brussels this week, which brought together former US chief scientific advisor Nina Fedoroff as well as ambassadors and business leaders from the EU and around the world, Mr Dyer warned that Europe could be “sleepwalking its way into a food crisis”.

He said: “The EU is one of the world’s major food producers with significant capacity to influence global food prices and availability, but Europe’s leaders are at risk of sleepwalking into a food crisis unless current policies to restrict production-boosting agricultural technologies are reversed.

“Innovations in plant science, from agricultural biotechnology to advanced crop protection products, offer major opportunities for Europe’s farmers to deliver sustainable gains in agricultural productivity. Yet such advances are currently discouraged by an anti-science EU policy agenda.”

The national and international security risks of failing to tackle the global food supply crisis were also highlighted in a new report commissioned by the CPA, which was issued this week by the Henry Jackson Society, a leading independent think-tank, entitled Shocks and Disruptions: the relationship between food security and national security.

Mr Dyer said: “Food supplies must increase by at least 70% to keep pace with the demands of a world population set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and the report highlights the urgent need to increase agricultural productivity, reduce food waste and improve distribution networks.

“The report also recognises that increasing food production sustainably in a world of rising urbanisation and already strained natural resources will require access to the most advanced farming technologies and practices.”