Food riots could become commonplace unless the government invests at least £100m in increasing agricultural production, a leading scientist has warned.

In an interview with the BBC, professor Douglas Kell of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council said £100m was needed to boost research in biotechnology if farmers were to produce sufficient food to meet global demand.

“There is a significant likelihood that, without investing in the science to deliver higher crop yields, we will not have the kinds of food levels we need to ensure food security,” Prof Kell said.

“Last year, in Indonesia and Mexico, there were food riots,” he said, adding that unrest would spread if there was not a major effort to develop agricultural science.

“This makes it sound rather dramatic but if I have to choose between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – the answer is ‘yes'”.

Prof Kell’s warning was founded on predictions that food consumption would jump 50% by 2030 as the world population exceeded 8.3bn.

“There is a significant likelihood that, without investing in the science to deliver higher crop yields, we will not have the kinds of food levels we need to ensure food security,” Prof Kell he said.

The onus was on the UK because it led the world in this field, he said in the interview.

“The UK has a particularly strong science base in plant and microbial science and that puts us in a particularly good place to help us feed the world.”