Keele professor secures full Government inquiry into food security

Professor Toby Bruce has secured a full Government inquiry into the role of science and technology in addressing challenges to food security and biodiversity, following his successful pitch to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in January.

Professor Bruce’s pitch was one of just four chosen to be taken forward as a full Government inquiry. The committee has combined Professor Bruce’s recommendations on food security and crop protection with a related topic on gene editing techniques from Nicola Patron of the Earlham Institute.

A report published this week by the Science and Technology Committee said: “Professor Toby Bruce suggested that we should hold an inquiry into food security, the environment and crop protection. He suggested that an inquiry could look at the tools available to farmers to protect crops against pests, weeds and diseases, how these had changed over time, what changes were needed to ensure food security in the future and research investment in crop protection. We will incorporate this into an inquiry into the role of science and technology in addressing challenges to food security and biodiversity.”

Professor Bruce said: “I am delighted that ‘My Science Inquiry’ is being taken forward to a full inquiry and look forward to working with the Commons Science and Technology Committee. There is an urgent need for increased research and innovation to help improve food security and protect the environment. I hope that the forthcoming inquiry will be a catalyst for change and will help to address some serious limitations that currently impede our innovation system, particularly with respect to providing new options for protecting harvests from pests”.

During the presentation of his research, Professor Bruce said: “The choice we have at the moment is having to choose between food security and the environment, so we need to find a way forward in which we can safeguard our crops without environmental impact, partly through smarter regulation to bring more inventions into the market. There is a critical shortage of new treatments but there’s also underinvestment in this area. It's a major challenge that we face this century, how do we feed the world without wrecking the environment in the process.”

The Commons Science and Technology Committee will launch their inquiry into the role of science and technology in addressing challenges to food security and biodiversity within the next 12 months.

Professor Bruce’s presentation to the committee can be viewed in full here: