CPA Chief Executive, Nick von Westenholz, said, "The Committee is right to recognise the role of technology in driving greater food security. The government must ensure its Agri-tech Strategy is appropriately funded and focused to ensure innovation makes out into the field where it can be taken up by farmers and growers. However, it's not just about ensuring the R&D pipeline is properly funded and structured - it must be accompanied by a regulatory system that doesn't stifle innovation by preventing farmers from having access to the tools they need. The UK government must challenge the current approach being taken by European regulators and policy-makers on issues such as pesticides and GMOs, which demonstrates an over-emphasis on precaution that fails to recognise the vital role these technologies must play in feeding the world.
"The Committee sees a role for government in leading public debate around the use of GM crops. But it shouldn't stop there - government must ensure there is balanced debate around the role of technology in food production across the board, which considers benefit alongside risk, and emphasises the safeguards that are in place to minimise adverse impacts on the environment and public health.
"While the UK government appears to recognise the distinctive challenge for UK food producers in meeting demand from a growing global population, there seems to be a complete lack or recognition amongst European policy-makers about the need to support a sustainable increase in productivity. The UK government must make the case for a production-led response to global food insecurity in Europe, as well as ensuring there is a comprehensive and joined-up strategy domestically to ensure we can feed our own growing population safely and affordably."
The CPA provided both written and oral evidence to the Committee's inquiry.