Norfolk MP calls for new research approach

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman has called for improved co-ordination of food and farming research.

As the chairman of a cross-party agricultural parliamentary group, he highlighted the potential of East Anglia's research and life sciences sectors while visiting the National Institute of Agricultural Botany at Cambridge.

Mr Freeman, chairman of the parliamentary group on science and technology in agriculture, was keen to encourage even more collaboration between public and private sector.

He said that a dedicated food and farming technology and innovation centre could provide the leadership and co-ordination needed to take new scientific discoveries through to practical application.

Mr Freeman was told by senior NIAB staff about research in the pipeline to improve yield, climate resilience and resource use efficiency of major crops.

He visited the glasshouse complex, growth room facilities and plant genetics laboratory, which had carried out in the past five years to strengthen core activities in plant variety and seed testing, and to extend crop science capabilities.

'Producing more agricultural outputs with fewer inputs is one of the biggest challenges facing us in the 21st century and, through world-leading independent crop research centres such as NIAB, Britain is well-placed to play a key role in addressing that challenge.

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'However, it is clear that much of the research taking place in the UK's life sciences sector requires closer co-ordination to ensure our rapidly advancing knowledge-base is translated into useful products and practices on the ground.

'I am encouraging those in the industry and research community to explore setting up a specific technology and innovation centre for the food and agricultural sciences in the UK to bring together our leading scientists in collaboration,' said Mr Freeman.