1 March 1996

SNP protest atthreat to SCRI

FEARS over the long-term future of the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie, Dundee, has prompted the tabling of an Early Day Motion by Roseanna Cunningham (SNP, Perth and Kinross).

The institute, which employs 400 staff and had a turnover last year of £12m, has been under scrutiny as part of the Department of Trade and Industrys review of government scientific departments.

Invergowrie is renowned for its work in crop biotechnology, covering potatoes, cereals and the soft fruit industry in eastern Scotland.

Mrs Cunningham said the institute was indispensable in its national and international links with the business and farming communities, adding that it was a disgrace that its future was under a shadow.

"This threat is yet another example of the short-term nature of this Tory governments policy-making. It would appear that they are intent on pursuing a path which is, quite literally, a scorched earth policy."

She has secured cross-party backing for her motion from several MPs, including Norman Godman (Lab, Greenock and Port Glasgow) and Ray Michie (Lib Dem, Argyll and Bute).

The report on the Scottish Crop Research Institute is due to be submitted by the end of March to ministers, who are expected to look at possible rationalisation in the agriculture and plant science sectors.

An SCRI spokesman said he had every confidence in the veracity and rigour of the review.

lThree Biological Sciences Research Council Institutes are to be scrutinised under a government review. They include: Babraham Institute, Cambridge; the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh; and the Institute for Animal Health, which has laboratories at Compton, Berkshire; Pirbright, Surrey; and Edinburgh. &#42