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Biotechnology research essential to solve global issues

"The research demonstrated at Potatoes in Practice is evidence of how the Institute develops its reputation for world leading research on crop genetic improvement and diversity, in partnership with scientific and industry bodies.

Following the announcement made by the Scottish Government about a ban on growing genetically modified crops in Scotland, researchers at the James Hutton Institute have said at this year’s Potatoes in Practice event that biotechnology remains a key tool for the delivery of evidence-based solutions to global challenges, which include food and environmental security.

"The research demonstrated at Potatoes in Practice is evidence of how the Institute develops its reputation for world leading research on crop genetic improvement and diversity, in partnership with scientific and industry bodies. Such collaborations have enabled the Institute to secure significant external funding, complementing that from Scottish Government," Professor Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, advocated.

The plant and environment research portfolio at the James Hutton Institute develops and uses new gene technology to study the links between genes and plant traits. However, the Institute does not cultivate commercial GM crops.

Because of its ability to use GM crops in controlled and field experiments, the James Hutton Institute has made major contributions to the development of policy and regulatory frameworks for the release of GM crops in Europe and in relation to food/feed safety issues.

Professor Gordon added: “We recognise the well-documented position of the Scottish Government in relation to its policy on genetically modified crops, and respect their role as one of our portfolio of funders. As such, we will be responding to the Scottish Government consultation on a Future for Scottish Agriculture. The consultation provides an opportunity for the Institute to provide a scientific perspective on the Scottish Government’s policy on achieving its stated vision of green, innovative and profitable agriculture.

“This will include detailed representation for the use of the most appropriate technologies to support research and development which can secure competitive industries in the face a growing number of issues impacting on food security.”

Drawing on its expertise in both the natural and social sciences, the James Hutton Institute has unique insights to the debates surrounding the genetic improvement of crops. Also, via the Scottish Food Security Alliance, and in collaboration with the National Farmers’ Union and The Roslin Institute, the Institute plans to engage with Scottish Government and MSPs over rapid developments in biotechnology.  These offer major opportunities for safe, advanced, knowledge-based plant and animal breeding geared towards the needs of Scottish agriculture and the food and drink industries and those of international markets for the Institute’s science.

Notes to editors

New European Union rules enable Member States and devolved administrations to restrict or ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within their territory. The Scottish Government has chosen to exercise that right, and notify the European Commission in advance of its deadline of 2nd October. The consultation and the press release can be viewed at the Scottish Government website.

According to the World Health Organisation, genetically modified (GM) organisms can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species. Such methods are used to create GM plants – which are then used to grow GM food crops.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/biotechnology-research-essential-solve-global-issues on 23/01/19 10:58:48 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.