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The Royal Society of Biology today released a new report about opportunities arising in plant sciences.

The report, Growing the future, was prepared by the Society’s special advisory committee for plant science, the UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF).

To launch the report, the Society convened a breakfast meeting in the Houses of Parliament, bringing together leading plant scientists, MPs and peers, researchers and education specialists, along with representatives of government departments and the Research Councils.

Front cover growing the future report

Growing the future highlights to policymakers and others the excellence of plant science in the UK, and its importance to the biosciences, the economy, and society both at home and around the world.

The report describes the potential of plant science to improve fundamental knowledge, enable the improvement of diet quality, increase crop productivity, enhance environmental sustainability and create new products and manufacturing processes.

Professor Rick Mumford FRSB, head of science, evidence and research at the Food Standards Agency, and outgoing chair of the UKPSF Committee, said: “The report’s conclusions emphasise opportunities to strengthen UK plant science by increasing interactions across disciplines and research settings.

“The conclusions also draw attention to the importance of international collaboration, call for a balanced debate and public engagement around new methods in agricultural production, and underscore the need for inspiring plant science content in bioscience education – to enthuse the next generation.”

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Stephen Metcalfe MP opening the launch (photo credit: RSB)


Opening the meeting, Stephen Metcalfe MP, welcomed an audience of over 60 guests to the Churchill Room in the Palace of Westminster, and spoke about the global importance of plant science in the UK, as well as his role on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Professor Mumford FRSB delivered an overview of the report after which Professor Dale Sanders FRSB, director of the John Innes Centre addressed the guests and emphasised the crucial importance of fundamental, blue-skies research in plant science to provide a rich source of discoveries and innovation.

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From left to right: Professor Rick Mumford FRSB, Dr Belinda Clarke CBiol FRSB and Professor Dale Sanders FRSB (Photo credit: RSB)


Dr Belinda Clarke CBiol FRSB, director of Agri-Tech East, completed the speeches by focusing on the exciting potential for technologies from other sectors to augment our current world-leading understanding of plant sciences.

You can read the report online, and find out more about the work done by UKPSF.