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Crop Biotech Update

Leading Groups Urge UK Government to Take Action to Harness Unique Contribution of Plant Genetic Innovation

July 28, 2021

The National Food Strategy, the United Kingdom's first commissioned independent review of the government's food policy, was launched last week. Leading groups in the United Kingdom's crop improvement pipeline, from fundamental and applied genetic science to commercial plant breeding, have issued a joint call on the Government to take action on regulation and R&D to harness the unique contribution of plant genetics in securing a more sustainable food future.

The National Food Strategy (NFS), which aims to provide a roadmap for transforming the food system from its current state to one that is healthier for the population and the planet, highlighted the need to invest in the latest science, including new breeding techniques. This is "to improve productivity without polluting the land." The NFS discussed the potential to increase crop yields by up to 30% through advances in crop breeding and sets out the need for a Challenge Fund targeted at practical innovation that would shift the nation towards sustainable and healthy eating.

The joint call is for the UK Government to ensure these innovations can take place by providing a proportionate and enabling regulatory framework for genetic innovation, alongside a more coherent R&D strategy for crop genetic improvement which ensures promising new genetic discoveries, for example in model plant species, have a clear translational pathway into crops and products of value to UK farmers and consumers.

The John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, The Sainsbury Laboratory, NIAB, and the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), along with leading plant scientists at Britain's top universities, have welcomed the National Food Strategy's recognition of the importance of crop genetics in delivering the productivity, resource use efficiency, and nutritional quality gains needed to support a healthier, more resilient food system.

For more details, read the news article on the BSPB website.

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