Crop Biotech Update

Royal Society Report Calls for "Sustainable Intensification of Global Agriculture"

October 23, 2009

There is a need for "sustainable intensification of global agriculture in which yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the cultivation of more land." This was a main point raised in the United Kingdom's Royal Society report on Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture.

The study conducted by a working group of experts in agriculture, international development, conservation biology and plant science, examined the contribution of the biological sciences to food crop production. It concludes with a general recommendation that a diversity of technologies needs to be used to enhance production. The specific recommendations of the report include the following:

  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) should develop a cross-council grand challenge on global food crop security as a priority. This needs to secure at least £2 billion over 10 years to make a substantial difference.
  • RCUK should increase support for ecosystem-based approaches, agronomy and the related sciences that underpin improved crop and soil management.
  • Universities should work with funding bodies to reverse the decline in subjects relevant to a sustainable intensification of food crop production, such as agronomy, plant physiology, pathology and general botany, soil science, environmental microbiology, weed science and entomology.
Download the report at