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Do more to ensure food security, Scottish Food Security Alliance urges

Potato beds (c) James Hutton Institute
"We cannot rely on what we have done in the past, we need new technology and agricultural practices if we are to overcome the challenges outlined in the Report

The Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops (SFSAC), a partnership formed by the James Hutton Institute, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee, has welcomed the publication of the second report on food security by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, stressing that more has to be done if we are to overcome the challenges brought about by the need to increase food production from finite resources.

The report points to a decline in UK food self-sufficiency during the past 20 years, from 87 to 68 per cent, and indicated a shift is necessary in methods to produce food, to minimise disruption brought about by unpredictable and volatile weather. It also supports the concept of sustainable intensification, which refers to producing more food with fewer inputs in a sustainable way.

Professor Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, said: “I welcome the Report as it highlights the difficulties facing the food supply chain in UK. The UK food supply is intimately linked with the global food security crisis. We cannot rely on what we have done in the past, we need new technology and agricultural practices if we are to overcome the challenges outlined in the Report. We also have to reduce food waste across the supply chain from the farm to the home. For example, in 2011 over 1 billion tons of food was lost or wasted; that’s about one third of the global food production.

“It all sounds very scary but here in Scotland we are well placed to help meet the food security challenges; not only do we produce quality food products but the Scottish Government has continued to invest in agricultural science when many other developed countries have failed to support R&D in this key sector. This investment has helped position Scotland as global leader in agricultural and environmental science. The SFSAC delivers that science to those who need it most – farmers, businesses and governments.”

Professor Pete Smith, from the University of Aberdeen and leader of the Food Systems pillar of SFSAC, commented: “The report outlines the challenges ahead and suggests that we will not be able to deliver food security by simply tweaking business as usual. New threats from extreme weather, changing global demand and commodity price volatility means that we need to rethink the way we produce and deliver food. There are no easy solutions, but at SFSAC we are ‘thinking outside the box’ to help deliver food security for all in the coming decades.”

Scientific researchers need to work with farmers, industry, retailers and broader society to make sure that the best information is used to grow more food using sustainable practices. The SFSAC was formed to bring together researchers from different disciplines to tackle the challenges of safe, sustainable food production systems under changing climates and with increased pressure to minimise the depletion of natural resources (fossil fuels, water, mineral nutrients and land itself).

Focussing on three research pillars, the SFSAC draws together scientific expertise to create a critical mass of internationally-recognised excellence in crop science, soil science, environmental modelling, and human nutrition. It also provides a hub for collaboration and training to support career development in challenging areas of research and development with global significance.

Notes to editors

The Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops contributes solutions to the complex issues surrounding food security by combining scientific excellence with relevance. Our complementary expertise in food systems, plant, soil and environment research will deliver the knowledge required to sustain healthy diets whilst meeting the challenges on crop production imposed by changing climates and increasing pressures on land and natural resources. By linking our basic, strategic and applied science we will build the pipelines required to generate the knowledge, tools and products that will make a difference. Key to this translational approach are our existing and developing knowledge exchange networks and partnerships with stakeholders in the academic, industrial and policy communities. The Alliance provides a vibrant, interactive hub for collaboration and training opportunities, with the resources and state-of-the art facilities required to stimulate excellence and support career development in challenging areas of research and development with global significance.

The University of Dundee is internationally recognised for its excellence in life sciences and medical research with particular expertise in cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience, skin diseases and plant sciences. The University has a top-rated medical school with research expanding from "the cell to the clinic to the community", while the College of Life Sciences is home to some of the world's most cited scientists and more than 900 research staff from 62 different countries. Dundee was voted best in Scotland for student experience in the 2014 Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. See for further details.

The University of Aberdeen has a strong national and international reputation for academic strength. Aberdeen academics and alumni have pioneered many developments in medicine, science, social sciences and humanities, and five Nobel Laureates are associated with the University. In all research areas, the University engages with policy, industry and public audiences to encourage and inform public debate, and stimulate interdisciplinary, joined-up action to address the big issues and questions facing today’s global community. Aberdeen is named among the top 100 higher education institutions in the world for scientific performance in the 2013 Leiden rankings. See for further details.

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Printed from /news/do-more-ensure-food-security-scottish-food-security-alliance-urges on 16/04/24 05:47:49 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.