01 July 1998
Biotechnology ‘critical’ for farming competitiveness

BIOTECHNOLOGY is the only way forward if farming is to remain competitive, according to a leading scientist.

John Ramsbottom, head of combinable crops at the National Institute for Agricultural Botany, made his comments at an open day in Cambridge yesterday (Tuesday).

He said scientists working on new crop varieties had welcomed this years testing conditions as “extremely positive”. It had been a good season for showing up weaknesses in varieties which would help to ensure only the best material came forward to growers, he said.

He also said that the European Unions Agenda 2000 package of reforms could result in a dramatic change in the balance of cropping in the UK. This was because of reductions in subsidy for some popular crops. He said UK grain prices would also continue to be affected by the level of the Pound, while greater exposure to world markets would increase price volatility.

He rated winter oilseed rape as the least threatened by Agenda 2000 because of its value as a break in wheat production.

He expected the new Buchan winter wheat to make an impact in northern England and Scotland.

  • The Scotsman 01/07/98 page 27