FT: Report calls for more use of research to improve crops
Scientifc contributions: Report calls for more use of research to improve crops
Published on 21 November 20123 by Charles Batchelor
Science has made a considerable contribution to the 2 per cent annual increase in global crop yields achieved in recent decades.
Conventional plant breeding has long been the traditional way of boosting plant performance but it has been joined in recent years by the technique of genetic modification (GM).
GM - also known as biotechnology or transgenics - remains controversial and has provoked consumer resistance in many European countries.
Its use is subject to strict controls in the European Union but its widespread acceptance in Asia and the Americas is beginning to pose serious problems for European growers and food processors.
A further concern for farmers in the UK is a perceived lack of the sort of long-term "blue sky" research and development for which the country was formerly renowned.
The European butter mountain and wine lake of the 1980s persuaded policy makers that food surpluses were the problem.
But forecasts of a world population of 9bn by 2050 have changed all that.
This has prompted the publication on Friday of Feeding the Future, a report backed by UK farming and agriculture support groups that sets out research and innovation priorities up to 2030.