Defra chief scientific adviser quizzed on horticultural R&D at Parliamentary select committee

Professor Bob Watson, Defra's chief scientific adviser, was grilled on funding for horticultural research and development during a select committee evidence session yesterday (17 March).

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee staged a one-off evidence session examining Defra science yesterday (17 March).

Defra's chief scientific adviser Professor Bob Watson was questioned on funding for applied research and development by horticulture sector representatives including East Malling Research's head of science Chris Atkinson, the John Innes Centre's head of business development Jonathan Clarke, and HW's Magda Ibrahim.

Atkinson explained to the meeting - which included speakers from BBSRC and the Environment Agency - there were benefits in applied science.

"We are currently in a situation where there is a lot of discussion about the future demise of horticultural research at the University of Warwick," he said. "I believe Defra is keen on funding applied research into food systems but we need rapid responses otherwise further institutions will close."

HW's Ibrahim raised a question on funding for R&D over and above the Technology Strategy Board programme, including for ornamental horticulture, as well as future funding for Warwick HRI.

Professor Watson responded: "We understand there are a lot of small scale producers and I don't know whether or not Defra will continue to fund this sort of research. It is one of the issues we will have to look at on the whole area of priorities."

To view the evidence session in full visit the Efra committee webcast site.

Questions are at the following times in the video:

Chris Atkinson - 1:42:50

Jonathan Clarke - 2:00:00

Horticulture Week - 2:04:00

To find out more and read the full story see Horticulture Week magazine on 26 March.

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