26 September 1997

Support for crops as raw materials

SUSTAINABLE development of crop-derived renewable raw materials is at the heart of government policy, says junior farm minister Elliot Morley.

He told the first conference, held by ACTIN (Alternative Crops Technology Information Network) in York on Wednesday, that industry was searching for natural raw materials or raw materials produced in a more environmentally-friendly way.

There was also a need to boost the rural economy through employment and business opportunities, and a need to find a constructive use for land taken out of food production through set-aside.

The basic principle underlying government policy was to encourage the development of renewable raw materials which could be viable without subsidy, Mr Morley said. There was no point in trying to develop industries which could only be sustained artificially with public money.

Ian Bartle, director of ACTIN, stressed the need for industry, researchers, and the farming community to work together. Otherwise the UK would be left at the starting gate of an exciting new technology.

ACTINs role was to promote crop-derived oils, fibres, starches, and speciality chemicals as renewable raw materials for industry. Its objective was to stimulate research and development into alternative crops, link industry and research, and to promote efficient uptake of available technology.