Grower input required for House of Lords inquiry on EU agriculture

Professionals involved in all aspects of food production - from farmers and growers to environmentalists and researchers - are being urged to take part in an inquiry on innovation and EU agriculture launched this summer by the House of Lords EU sub-committee on agriculture, fisheries and farming.

The aim of the inquiry is to identify how innovation in EU agriculture can be best supported, particularly at a time when factors such as population increase and climate change are greatly impacting the scale of the challenges facing agriculture in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Committee chairman Lord Carter of Coles said: "We consider 'innovation' to refer to new technologies such as biotechnology and new machinery incremental change such as commercial decisions to plant a new crop or alter a label and to the more generic processes by which ideas are conceived, developed and deployed throughout the agricultural sector."

The committee will be considering how far agriculture is innovating today, what the obstacles to innovation are, what challenges are likely to drive innovation in the future, the key players and structures needed to support innovation in EU agriculture and how the Common Agricultural Policy and EU research programme can help to resolve the issues identified.

The recommendations given to the inquiry will contribute to the development of innovation in EU agriculture by the UK Government and EU institutions over the next few years.

The sub-committee conducting the inquiry is the same committee that published the Adapting to Climate Change: EU Agriculture and Forestry (2010) report, which found that the sector's research capacity had shrunk in recent years.

Carter said: "In the course of our inquiry into adapting agriculture and forestry to climate change, we heard some evidence to suggest that agricultural research capacity has shrunk over several decades and that, even when the knowledge exists, there appears to be a significant problem in terms of knowledge transfer.

"At the same time, it was clear new technologies would become increasingly important in order to adapt agriculture to existing and future challenges, such as climate change, water scarcity and the need to encourage sustainable improvements in productivity - not least in the context of food security."

The sub-committee is inviting people in this inquiry for their views on this topic by asking questions such as: "What are the current obstacles to innovation?" and "Is there a shortfall in research capacity and in technology transfer?"

- To take part in the inquiry, visit www.tiny.cc/innovationinquiry. The deadline for written evidence is 24 September.


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