Growing the Future

31 January 2019 10:31
A field of grain crop under a blue sky in soft focus in the background, with one ear of grain in close-up at the front

'Growing the future', a report from the UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF),a special advisory committee of the Royal Society of Biology, was launched at a breakfast meeting in the Houses of Parliament earlier this week.

Stephen Metcalfe MP spoke about the global importance of plant science in the UK to an audience of MPs and peers, plant scientists and education specialists, and representatives of government departments and the Research Councils.

Launching the Report, Professor Rick Mumford FRSB, head of science, evidence and research at the Food Standards Agency, and chair of the UKPSF Committee said: “The Report’s conclusions emphasise opportunities to strengthen UK plant science by increasing interactions across disciplines and research settings.

“The conclusions also draw attention to the importance of international collaboration, call for a balanced debate and public engagement around new methods in agricultural production, and underscore the need for inspiring plant science content in bioscience education – to enthuse the next generation.”

The Report describes the potential of plant science to improve fundamental knowledge and to impact our lives in a wide range of areas including: improving the quality of what we eat; reducing crop losses to pests, pathogens and damage; enhancing environmental sustainability and creating new products and manufacturing processes.

It showcases world leading research from around the UK, including work involving Lancaster plant scientists on improving the efficiency of photosynthesis, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Bill Davies, from the Lancaster Environment Centre, is a member of the UKPSF Committee which co-ordinated the production of the Report. He said: “Humanity faces formidable and growing challenges. The UK has a leading position in plant science research and there are now excellent opportunities to capitalise on the progress being made and deliver transformative benefits to people across the world. We argue strongly that collaboration should be encouraged between plant scientists, those in other disciplines, end-users of research and the public.

Download the Report here.

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