Science push needed to feed growing population

Urgent action is needed to develop the new technologies that will help provide enough food for a growing population, DEFRA science minister Lord de Mauley will say today.

The minister will meet with leading figures from the worlds of science, farming and food at the Science Museum in London to debate how the government’s £160m investment in a new Agricultural Technologies Strategy should be used to respond to the growing challenges of world food security.The Food for Thought event has been convened jointly by the Science Museum, DEFRA and the Met Office.

It will consider how a £70m government “catalyst” can be used by businesses and academics to develop innovative new technologies and bring them to the market, such as recent innovations of cancer-fighting broccoli or GPS-guided tractors.

Lord De Mauley will say: “Agri-technologies have the potential to transform food production in Britain. Demand for food is rising rapidly and time is not on our side. We have a world-class science and technology sector.

“Breakthroughs in nutrition, genetics, and precision farming mean the sector is one of the world’s fastest growing and exciting markets. Now we need to ensure this innovation is converted into practical tools that deliver in the field.

“The government is investing millions of pounds into making this a reality. The challenge for the business and research community now is to identify where investment can best help us meet the challenges of growing more food in a sustainable way and help our agricultural industry compete in the global race.”

With the planet’s population due to hit nine billion by 2050, it is estimated we will need a 70% global increase in food production by 2050.

The Agri-Tech strategy champions the role our science and technology industry can play in the global race to increase food production, improve the environment, minimise waste and boost competition.

Ian Blatchford, Science Museum director, said: “Science holds the key to meeting the global challenge of feeding a growing population in a sustainable way.”

Those joining Lord de Mauley at the event on Wednesday (27 November) include SesVanderhave UK Ltd, Bayer CropScience, Which, the Royal Agricultural University and the NFU.

The Agri-Tech Catalyst

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is being delivered by the Technology Strategy Board in partnership with BBSRC, and is open for bids. Funding will be provided for SMEs and academics to develop solutions to agri-tech challenges, such as adapting agricultural practices to cope with climate change, worldwide.

More details of the Agri-Tech Catalyst, including the application process for the various funding awards, can be found at the Technology Strategy Board.

More on this topic

£160m agri-tech strategy ‘verging on insulting’


See more