NB THIS IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO SLIDE 2 We have recently published our new strategic plan …the age of bioscience. The 21st century will be the age of bioscience: A biological revolution is unfolding in the same way that advances in physics shaped the early 20th century and great leaps in electronics and computing have transformed our lives over the past 40 years. New tools and technologies, advances in computation and multidisciplinary approaches are changing the way in which bioscience is undertaken. Never before have researchers had such large data sets and been able to explore such a range, depth and complexity of questions about living systems and how they function.
In the coming decades bioscience will be at the heart of providing solutions to major challenges facing humankind such as: feeding nine billion people sustainably by 2050 developing renewable low-carbon sources of energy, transport fuels and chemicals to reduce dependence on dwindling oil reserves staying healthier for longer as lifespans increase and society ages The three strategic research priorities identifies in our Strategic Plan reflect these challenges.
Cross-institutional funding and trying to get HEIs
Historically improvements in yields have been due to the introduction of fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides and this coupled with the introduction of the modern semi-dwarf varieties led to huge increases in yield. With inorganic fertilisers hugely reliant on fossil fuels and pressure to reduce carbon emissions and recent EU rulings on the use of agrochemicals we are facing huge challenges in maintaining and increasing current yields to meet the needs of a growing population.
The only current source of SDA is Echium oil, which is a low yielding species which also contains omega-6 GLA. Monsanto have a SDA-containing soybean oil scheduled for market ~2011
Research sought to explore methods to increase levels of ‘health-promoting bioactive compounds’ such as anthocyanins in fruits and vegetables. Developed a method to genetically modify ordinary tomatoes (by expressing genes from snapdragon) so that the resulting fruit contains much higher levels of anthocyanin pigments. These pigments can act as powerful antioxidants, and given that antioxidant properties may be implicated in reducing risk of a variety of disease, but more research is required to establish human benefit of these tomatoes. Could also be used as an example of value of GM as research tool. Method likely to be used in further studies.
The number of reports reflects the weight of opinion and concern about long-term food security. Food security is not a passing political fad.
Agriculture and Health BBSRC perspective Janet Allen, Director of Research BBSRC 23 rd June 2010
Strategic Plan 2010 – 2015 The Age of Bioscience Driven by new tools and technologies … .never before have researchers been able to address such a breadth and depth of biological questions….
Strategic Plan 2010 – 2015 Food Security Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology Basic bioscience underpinning health Three major research priorities
Project and programme (LoLa) grants Responsive Mode,
Training and skills posts (studentships, fellowships)
John Innes Centre
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)
Institute for Animal Health
Institute for Food Research
Roslin Institute (Edinburgh)
Institute for Biological and Environmental Research (Aberystwyth)
Broadbalk yields, varieties and major changes Courtesy of Ian Crute Unmanured, continuous wheat Continuous wheat: FYM PK+144 kg N 1st wheat in rotation: FYM+spring N Best NPK fertiliser Red Rostock Red Club Squ. Master Red Standard Squ. Master Cappelle Desp. Flanders Brimstone Apollo Hereward Introduction of: liming fungicides fallowing herbicides Semi-dwarf varieties
Protein content (40% of population dependent on cereals for protein)
Trace elements: Iron, selenium
Examples where agriculture research impacts health
Improving quality of cereals and food
Breeding (e.g. protein content and trace elements)
GM (healthy foods: e.g. omega-3, purple tomatoes)
Reducing dependence on pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers
GM resistance traits
Protecting against food-borne zoonoses
Genetics of host to food-borne pathogens
Campylobacter, salmonella, E.Coli 0157
Producing novel omega-3 fatty acids in transgenic plants RRes have grown several thousand stearidonic acid (SDA)-enriched linseed plants, harvested the mature seed and cold pressed the oil for subsequent analysis.
“ Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture must remain a priority on the political agenda, to be addressed through a cross-cutting and inclusive approach, relevant to all stakeholders at global, regional and national level .”
[G8 statement July 2009]
Heading for global shortages of food, water and energy
Food price spikes in 2007-08 plunged millions back into hunger and triggered riots from Egypt to Bangladesh
Increased production of crops, livestock, dairy and aquaculture e.g. greater resource use efficiency (more food from less input), improved genetics adapted to future climate, pest and disease control (including diagnostics)
Reduced adverse environmental impacts e.g. lower water and energy use, reduced GHG emissions from agriculture and the supply chain
Reduced waste throughout the supply chain e.g. tackling post-harvest losses, reduced waste in food processing and the home
Improved understanding of the many and diverse social and economic factors e.g. international trade & aid, food choice / consumer behaviour, transport, retail, food service sector, resilient supply chains
Improved human nutrition & food safety e.g. understanding relationship between diet & health, reducing incidences of food-borne disease
… through integrated approaches and multidisciplinary research to address these complex problems & pull research communities together