Tag: genetic modification

The need for science in food security

In this video blog, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney makes a case for research from the Oxford Farming Conference.

Simon Coveney

“My name is Simon Coveney, I am the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine and I am here at the Oxford Farming Conference today with a very clear message about the importance of the linkage between science and agriculture and the agri-food industry generally.

The reality is that we have an enormous challenge, but also an enormous opportunity for this sector over the next 10-50 years, because globally we have to find a way of producing significantly more food from the same, in fact less, natural resources as we see the availability of agricultural land shrink by about a percentage a year.

And at the same time we see the consumption demand for food dramatically increasing.


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New frontiers in food security

Collaborations between Britain and Brazil are on the up. John Lucas reports.

John Lucas

It is now more than one month since I arrived in Brazil to spend a period working in Embrapa (the Brazilian Government agricultural research organisation) as part of the Labex (Laboratorio no Exterior) programme. 

For more than 10 years Embrapa have been sending scientists abroad to work in labs and organisations that they regard as of scientific and strategic importance, and a UK Labex base was established at Rothamsted Research in 2010.
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Farming in the future: nature versus necessity

Les Firbank

It’s time to engage the public with the difficult choices that lie ahead, says Les Firbank.

Food and farming have rarely been away from the headlines in recent years. One of the ongoing themes has been the alleged departure of modern food production and distribution from so-called ‘natural’ practices. We have seen it in the controversies over genetically modified (GM) crops, the rapid spread of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, and the risks to human health from BSE in cows and salmonella in chicken eggs.
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Breaking the dependency

Sean Mayes

We are too reliant on too few crop species. Using more underutilised plants will improve global food security, says Sean Mayes.

The world depends for its basic diet of carbohydrates, fats and proteins on a very limited number of crop species.

For carbohydrates, three related species, wheat, rice and maize, dominate human consumption. Any short term improvement in food security will need to include modification (either transgenic or through conventional breeding) of these and other staple crops.
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Giles OldroydThrough our understanding of how plants secure their own nutritional requirements, we can provide new solutions for sustainable food production for the world’s growing population. 

Plants must secure high levels of nitrogen, and in conventional agriculture nitrogen is added at high concentrations in the form of inorganic fertilisers. Artificial nitrogenous fertilisers can increase yield by as much as 50% and the global farming system, and hence our own food supply, is now dependent on them. We would face very severe food shortages if nitrogen fertilisers were to become unavailable.
Continue reading Getting to the root of food security