SCRI pledges commitment to plant breeding and criticises UK's lack of plant breeding training facilities

The managing director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute's (SCRI's) commercial subsidiary Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) Dr Nigel Kerby has underlined the group's commitment to training a new generation of plant breeders.

Speaking at a "summit" meeting on sustainable agricultural supply in London, he said that plant breeding was a critical core expertise of any nation that intended to have a vibrant, agricultural industry in our changing environment.

"We are currently seeing in the UK that there is very little capacity to train plant breeders. Believe it or not, the UK does not have a single Masters course completely dedicated to plant breeding — to me it's incredible. Why don't we have people who want to go into plant breeding? The opportunities to do public good are immense in terms of helping to overcome poverty around the world. Of course, there are also potentially lucrative careers in the commercial sector."

Recently SCRI — through MRS — has itself recruited new, trainee breeders, or field geneticists, for potatoes and cereals.  Dr Kerby said SCRI and Mylnefield's support for this expertise was unique in the UK and underlined the group's commitment to developing new, highly successful crops able to withstand the changes brought about by climate change.

Kerby backed a recent Westminster government initiative that spoke of the "collective effort" required to build a thriving food system that produced safe, low-impact food and healthy diets.

Kerby was speaking at the Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chain Summit, held at Earls Court in London on 30 November and 1 December.


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