A research centre in Norwich has been given a £2.5m grant for work it is doing to develop new strains of cereal.

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The money is included in £20m of life sciences investment announced today and will go to the John Innes Centre at the Norwich Research Park.

Minister for universities and science David Willetts said: “Synthetic biology could provide solutions to the global challenges we face and offers significant growth opportunities in a range of important sectors from health to energy.

“However the commercialisation of basic science is largely untapped. This investment is part of the government’s commitment to making the UK a world leader in the research and application of synthetic biology.

“It will help to ensure that academics and industry can realise its full potential.”

The money will pay for research to develop strains of cereal that are less reliant on fertilizer.

See tomorrow’s paper for the full story.

2 comments

  • Prof Oldroyd's N-fixing wheat would supply its own nitrogenous fertiliser by fixing atmospheric N in the soil through the action of bacteria attached to root nodules, just like peas and beans do now. My issue with this is the worry that the seeds and agrochemicals multinationals will get their sticky fingers on it. The research grant from the Gates foundation was awarded on condition that smallholder farmers in developing countries do not have to pay patent fees (intellectual property rights): I wonder if this new tranche of funding for the same research carries the same caveat? I also wonder when the EDP is going to live up to its promise of being 'fair, balanced and objective at all times', and call for papers (articles) which offer the readers peer-reviewed scientific material which raises questions about the benefits of GM generally in the pursuit of global food security. Furthermore, there is an informed body of scientific opinion which will have been underwhelmed by Prof Tim Benton (Global food security champion) blithely describing GM research as 'shoving a few genes around': there is growing empirical evidence worldwide of 'unforeseen' problems arising from herbicide resistant (RR) crops and bt crops: In addition, there are genuine question marks about how Prof Oldroyd's labtrial plot results may be transferred successfully to smallholder farmers fields in developing countries - I am waiting for the EDP to publish an article (in preparation, I hope?) by Dr Shawn McGuire (UEA) an acknowledged expert in the lab-to-farmer field. Most developing country farmers don't grow wheat: their staple crops (in zones where the soils are poor and the rainfall light and unreliable) are sorghums and millets. Will this new cereal N-fixing research be extended to these crops? Finally, I am also waiting for Prof Oldroyd to respond to my request to send me the internet links to documentation which he states is widely available and which illustrates the uptake of GM by 'peasant' farmers worldwide. I've yet to find it!"

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    martin wallis

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

  • ho hum: are we now going to see yet another glut of stories in the EDP about the 'miracles' on offer to the world's starving masses from the GM labs? George Freeman must be cruising towards a knighthood...

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    martin wallis

    Friday, November 9, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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