News Article | May 2, 2017
Leaving the European Union without a trade deal in place could put up to 97% of British food and drink exports at risk, according to a House of Lords report that lays bare the agricultural industry’s overwhelming reliance on local markets. As negotiations between the EU and British government appear to take a turn for worse, concerns are growing that failure to reach an exit deal could leave many industries facing steep tariff barriers in future – something government ministers hope could be offset by opportunities in other international export markets. The latest Lords report on the implications of Brexit exposes particularly high dependency on the single market and associated EU trade deals among British farmers and food manufacturers. Evidence to the Lords EU energy and environment subcommittee revealed the interconnected nature of much food and drink production that would be threatened by non-tariff barriers. “If you take one example – a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream … if you are a Northern Irish cow, your milk crosses the border five times before it goes into the bottle,” said Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). “The idea that that would be subject to tariffs hither and yon is really very scary.” The production of many baked goods could similarly be vulnerable to disruption as raw ingredients such as flour cross EU borders several times before cakes and confectionary appear on supermarket shelves. It is the impact on farmers that is giving peers most cause for concern, and the report warns of a possible quadruple whammy from Brexit as they lose access to EU farm subsidies, European export markets, access to European workers and protection from a cheap imports from outside the EU. “Post-Brexit, the UK’s agriculture and food sectors face enormous challenges,” said Robin Teverson, the chair of the committee. “Life after the EU’s common agricultural policy will not be easy for the many UK farmers who rely on its financial support.” In other evidence to the committee, Peter Hardwick, head of exports at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, a statutory industry body, said: “If we look at our agricultural exports, they are currently very dependent on trade with the European Union and, on average, about 80% of our agricultural exports go to the European Union.” Trade data analysed by the FDF found equally strong ties when finished consumer products were included in the total. It found 70% of food and drink exports went to EU member states, and a further 27% to countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU. There are 27 such agreements in place, covering 38 countries ranging from Turkey to Morocco to Canada, and the Lords investigation concluded that most of these would lapse once Britain left the EU and would need to be separately renegotiated for exporters to continue to benefit from low tariffs. Instead, the only access guaranteed in the event of no new trade deals being struck would stem from Britain’s membership of the World Trade Organisation, which has particularly punitive tariffs for many agricultural goods – rising to 30% for much of the dairy industry. Lord Teverson said the trade numbers were “staggering” and revealed “how totally dependent we are on the EU for our export markets in these animal and food process products”. The committee’s report says patchy trade data has previously masked the scale of intra-European trade, particularly as traffic through ports makes precise measurement difficult. Teverson said the impact of Brexit, particularly for sheep, pork and cattle producers, would soon begin to sink in. “All those issues will come about as soon as the negotiations start. At that point a lot of this will become live,” he said in an interview. “As we’ve seen, the government itself might not wish to give a running commentary but you can bet your life there is going to be a running commentary from the other side. Real issues will start to come through.” The government insists it is still confident of striking a comprehensive new free trade agreement with the EU as well as many new bilateral deals that can replace and expand those already in place. It has also guaranteed to match farm support payments for a limited period. The Lords report calls for an extensive transition period for farmers to adjust to the host of new challenges on the horizon. “Farmers risk high tariffs and non-tariff barriers on exports, which would render their business uncompetitive, while simultaneously having to adjust to a new UK policy for funding,” the study concludes. “This could have detrimental effects on an industry – and rural communities – which needs long-term clarity and policy stability to adjust to the post-Brexit policy environment.”
Godfray H.C.J.,University of Oxford |
Crute I.R.,Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board |
Haddad L.,Institute of Development Studies |
Muir J.F.,Syngenta |
And 6 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010
Although food prices in major world markets are at or near a historical low, there is increasing concern about food security-the ability of the world to provide healthy and environmentally sustainable diets for all its peoples. This article is an introduction to a collection of reviews whose authors were asked to explore the major drivers affecting the food system between now and 2050. A first set of papers explores the main factors affecting the demand for food (population growth, changes in consumption patterns, the effects on the food system of urbanization and the importance of understanding income distributions) with a second examining trends in future food supply (crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, and 'wild food'). A third set explores exogenous factors affecting the food system (climate change, competition for water, energy and land, and how agriculture depends on and provides ecosystem services), while the final set explores cross-cutting themes (food system economics, food wastage and links with health). Two of the clearest conclusions that emerge from the collected papers are that major advances in sustainable food production and availability can be achieved with the concerted application of current technologies (given sufficient political will), and the importance of investing in research sooner rather than later to enable the food system to cope with both known and unknown challenges in the coming decades. © 2010 The Royal Society.
Godfray H.C.J.,University of Oxford |
Beddington J.R.,U.K. Government Office for Science |
Crute I.R.,Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board |
Haddad L.,Institute of Development Studies |
And 6 more authors.
Science | Year: 2010
Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement for Science. All Rights Reserved.
Dicks L.V.,University of Cambridge |
Bardgett B.D.,University of Manchester |
Bell J.,PepsiCo |
Benton T.G.,University of Leeds |
And 36 more authors.
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2013
Increasing concerns about global environmental change and food security have focused attention on the need for environmentally sustainable agriculture. This is agriculture that makes efficient use of natural resources and does not degrade the environmental systems that underpin it, or deplete natural capital stocks. We convened a group of 29 'practitioners' and 17 environmental scientists with direct involvement or expertise in the environmental sustainability of agriculture. The practitioners included representatives from UK industry, non-government organizations and government agencies. We collaboratively developed a long list of 264 knowledge needs to help enhance the environmental sustainability of agriculture within the UK or for the UK market. We refined and selected the most important knowledge needs through a three-stage process of voting, discussion and scoring. Scientists and practitioners identified similar priorities. We present the 26 highest priority knowledge needs. Many of them demand integration of knowledge from different disciplines to inform policy and practice. The top five are about sustainability of livestock feed, trade-offs between ecosystem services at farm or landscape scale, phosphorus recycling and metrics to measure sustainability. The outcomes will be used to guide ongoing knowledge exchange work, future science policy and funding. © 2013 by the authors.
Pretty J.,University of Essex |
Sutherland W.J.,University of Cambridge |
Ashby J.,International Center for Tropical Agriculture |
Auburn J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture |
And 53 more authors.
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2010
Despite a significant growth in food production over the past half-century, one of the most important challenges facing society today is how to feed an expected population of some nine billion by the middle of the 20th century. To meet the expected demand for food without significant increases in prices, it has been estimated that we need to produce 70-100 per cent more food, in light of the growing impacts of climate change, concerns over energy security, regional dietary shifts and the Millennium Development target of halving world poverty and hunger by 2015. The goal for the agricultural sector is no longer simply to maximize productivity, but to optimize across a far more complex landscape of production, rural development, environmental, social justice and food consumption outcomes. However, there remain significant challenges to developing national and international policies that support the wide emergence of more sustainable forms of land use and efficient agricultural production. The lack of information flow between scientists, practitioners and policy makers is known to exacerbate the difficulties, despite increased emphasis upon evidence-based policy. In this paper, we seek to improve dialogue and understanding between agricultural research and policy by identifying the 100 most important questions for global agriculture. These have been compiled using a horizon-scanning approach with leading experts and representatives of major agricultural organizations worldwide. The aim is to use sound scientific evidence to inform decision making and guide policy makers in the future direction of agricultural research priorities and policy support. If addressed, we anticipate that these questions will have a significant impact on global agricultural practices worldwide, while improving the synergy between agricultural policy, practice and research. This research forms part of the UK Government's Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project. © 2010 Earthscan.
CRUTE I.R.,Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board |
MUIR J.F.,University of Stirling
Journal of Agricultural Science | Year: 2011
SUMMARYTo meet the increasing global demand for food that is predicted over the coming decades it will be necessary to increase productivity and to do this in a way that is sustainable and efficient in its use of resources. Productivity is currently determined by the intrinsic genetic potential of the domestic plants and animals on which mankind is dependent as well as by components of the biophysical environment (temperature, water availability and quality, soil fertility, parasites, pathogens, weeds) from which terrestrial or aquatic food production is derived. Within certain limits, it is possible to manipulate plant and animal genotypes, the production environment, and the inevitable interaction between these factors, to relax constraints on productivity and potential output. Looking to the future, increased scientific understanding will undoubtedly permit this manipulation to be achieved more effectively, thus enabling the scale of production to be elevated predictably while reducing reliance on non-renewable inputs and limiting the use of more forest, grassland, wetland or coastal margin. The present paper introduces a collection of reviews that were commissioned as part of the UK's Government Office of Science Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures which reports early in 2011. The reviews explore opportunities for advances in science and technology to impact in coming decades on the sustainable productivity of terrestrial and aquatic food production systems. Collectively, they describe many of the approaches currently being considered to define, remove or relax the different genetic or environmental constraints limiting sustainable food production. These include: potential impacts of climate change on aquatic systems, the application of biotechnology, genetics and the development of systems to improve livestock, fish and crop production; approaches to the management of parasites and pathogens; weed control in crops; management of soil fertility; approaches to countering problems of water shortage; reducing post-harvest wastage; the role of advanced engineering and the potential for increasing food production in urban environments.
Parra L.,University of California at Davis |
Maisonneuve B.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research |
Lebeda A.,Palacky University |
Schut J.,Rijk Zwaan |
And 6 more authors.
Euphytica | Year: 2016
Lettuce downy mildew caused by Bremia lactucae is the most important disease of lettuce worldwide. Breeding for resistance to this disease is a major priority for most lettuce breeding programs. Many genes and factors for resistance to B. lactucae have been reported by multiple researchers over the past ~50 years. Their nomenclature has not been coordinated, resulting in duplications and gaps in nominations. We have reviewed the available information and rationalized it into 51 resistance genes and factors and 15 quantitative trait loci along with supporting documentation as well as genetic and molecular information. This involved multiple rounds of consultation with many of the original authors. This paper provides the foundation for naming additional genes for resistance to B. lactucae in the future as well as for deploying genes to provide more durable resistance. © 2016 The Author(s)
Zammerini D.,University of Bristol |
Wood J.D.,University of Bristol |
Whittington F.M.,University of Bristol |
Nute G.R.,University of Bristol |
And 3 more authors.
Meat Science | Year: 2012
Following preliminary screening and feeding trials on farms supplying a commercial abattoir, 360 entire male pigs were used to evaluate the effects of different percentages of chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) on levels of boar taint compounds and sensory aspects in backfat. Pigs were fed 0, 3, 6 or 9% chicory in the diet, 30 pigs being sampled at 3 different times: initially to measure basal levels of skatole and androstenone and after 1 and 2. weeks on the test diets. Cooked samples of backfat were presented to a trained sensory panel for "sniff" tests. Chicory fed at 9% for 2. weeks reduced skatole levels significantly (P < 0.001), with 0.55 of pigs below 0.05 μg/g, typical of levels in castrated males. Abnormal odour scores were significantly lower for pigs in this group compared with 0% pigs (P < 0.001), however, androstenone concentration was significantly higher in this group after the 2. week feeding period (P < 0.005). Thus, feeding 9% chicory for 2. weeks was effective in reducing backfat skatole concentrations and abnormal odour scores of cooked fat but not androstenone concentration. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
News Article | November 11, 2016
Production of seedless fruits an under-estimated tool for improving food security, research shows The opportunity to produce bountiful levels of vital food crops such as apples, tomatoes and watermelons could be boosted by reducing a crop's demand for pollinators, new research has shown. A team of researchers from the University of Exeter have conducted new research into how plant breeders are striving to improve fruit yields from crops, across the globe, by bi-passing the plants' need for insect pollination to reproduce. This is done by inducing parthenocarpy - artificially or via genetic modification - which makes a plant produce seedless fruits without the need for pollination. The study shows that parthenocarpy increases fruit quality and quantity amongst crops that would otherwise require pollination. However, the team insist parthenocarpy should not be used as a "panacea for agricultural success" - but should sit alongside environmentally sound practices to boost pollinator populations. The research is published in respected Journal of Applied Ecology on the 11th November. Jessica Knapp, lead author of the paper and from the Environment and Sustainability Institute, based at the University's Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: "It is of course vital that we still encourage and increase our native pollinator populations to ensure crops and wild plants can thrive as much as possible. "However, parthenocarpy can increase the quality and quantity of vital crops, such as apples and tomatoes, which may struggle to be pollinated naturally". Professor Juliet Osborne, one of the world's leading experts in bees and pollinators and co-author of the paper added: "Food security is a pressing global challenge and environmental and technological solutions should be used in tandem to ensure the best possible crop yields where they are needed most." The pioneering study presented a meta-analysis of existing studies to examine the extent and effectiveness of parthenocarpy-promoting techniques which include genetic modification, hormone application and selective breeding. The study showed that all the techniques increased fruit quantity and quality in 18 crops that traditionally depend on pollinators. Consequently, parthenocarpy could improve fruit quality and quantity in conditions usually adverse for pollination, such as during periods of poor light or cooler temperatures. The researchers believe the study shows that parthenocarpic crop plants could allow producers to extend growing seasons, increase the resilience of crops to adverse conditions, and ultimately improve food security. However, the research team also insist that the development of these seedless fruits should not reduce efforts to encourage insect pollinators to thrive, with fears over the health of bumblebee and honeybee colonies potentially having a serious impact for agro-ecosystems. Parthenocarpic plants still provide pollen and nectar, which can improve pollinator populations in the landscape, even if the plants themselves don't rely on them, so exploring this technology is unlikely to be detrimental to pollinators. Re-evaluating strategies for pollinator dependent crops: how useful is parthenocarpy? By Jessica Knapp, Lewis Bartlett and Juliet Osborne from the University of Exeter is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. It was funded as part of PhD studentship sponsored by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, UK, in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter.
Nicholls C.,Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
Outlooks on Pest Management | Year: 2012
Controlling weeds within the arable rotation is vital to produce high yields of good quality crops and to prevent the spread of pests and disease. In recent years, weed management has become an increasing challenge for farmers and their agronomists. The number of new commercial herbicides and those with novel modes of action has declined significantly since the 1990s. Lack of new modes of action (it is over 25 years since the last herbicide with a new mode of action was introduced), increasing resistance, fewer active ingredients, decreased pesticide availability due to EU legislation including regulation EC1107/2009, and increasing levels of herbicides in water are all ongoing concerns surrounding weed control. In the absence of new modes of action, the main focus of research over the last 10 years has been on the optimisation of existing herbicides and ensuring their safe use. Due to the concerns outlined above, farmers are adopting a number of methods of non-chemical control to form more integrated control strategies. Research is now focusing on integrating chemical and cultural control options to tackle weed problems. The three main common areas currently being investigated are the effects of varying seed rate, drilling date and the potential of varietal competitiveness. The recent introduction of herbicide tolerant oilseed rape (Clearfield varieties, BASF) in the UK has also brought an alternative method of weed control to farmers. Areas lacking research are the effectiveness of spring cropping and fallowing as a weed control method and also the understanding of the movement of herbicides through soil into water courses. © 2012 Research Information Ltd. All rights reserved.