Lords assert need for Government R&D funds

The House of Lords has stressed the need for Government-funded agricultural and horticultural research.

In a debate on agriculture and food security, a number of peers called for increased support for research and development, drawing attention to its recent decline.

"I should like to hear from the minister whether he can give us some comfort on continued support for R&D," said Lord Carter of Coles.

Following a request by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer for details of the plans in real terms over the next three years for research funding, the Bishop of Hereford added: "What resources will the Government continue to devote to this area? What encouragement will they give to our universities to broaden their research?"

He recognised the need for international cooperation, but stressed the importance for some UK-focused work.

"Our geography, and therefore our climate and geology, have a particularity, which means the research we need is very much an essential part of the sustainability, continuity and development of farming here in Britain," he said.

"It is not enough for us to rely just on partnerships with others elsewhere in the world."

Lord Henley, representing the Government, agreed that R&D was important. "I can give an assurance that the Government spends £365m a year on food and farming research," he said.

"Defra and the Biotechnology & Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) are the main funders, but there is also an indicative budget allocation for global food security in the BBSRC's delivery plan of some £104m per annum in the next four financial years."

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