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6 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM By Penny Maplestone he food riots and commodity price spikes of 2008 sparked a renewed policy focus on global food security and highlighted the precarious balance between production and consumption in the face of rapid population growth climate change and declining land water and energy resources. In the UK this resulted in a series of high- level policy statements inquiries and reports on food security all of which underlined the need to support productive hi-tech agriculture and the scientific innovation required to meet the food demands of a burgeoning world population. Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the pressures building on the global food supply system was the - UK governments Global Food and Farming Futures Foresight report in 2011 led by then UK chief scientist Professor Sir John Beddington. The Foresight report concluded that while efforts to reduce waste change diets and improve distribution systems all had a role to play the only realistic prospect of providing enough food for a world population set to exceed nine billion by 2050 was by increasing the output and efficiency of agricultural production. It emphasised the critical role of scientific and technological innovation in delivering the sustainable intensification of agricultureproducing more impacting less and consuming fewer resources. Foresight envisaged a central role for plant breeding in addressing the food security challenge highlighting the potential to apply both new and existing technologies to increase yields and improve nutrition to keep pace with the emergence of new pests and diseases and to develop crops more resilient to increased drought flooding and salinity arising from climate change. After decades of chronic underinvest- ment in productive agricultural research in the UK the Foresight report also called for increased public sector investment in applied agricultural research to ensure the potential benefits of a rapidly advancing knowledge base in biological genetic and data science could be transferred into farm-level application and impact. At the time this final recommendation aligned perfectly with UK plant breeders high-profile calls for research investment to reconnect the RD pipeline and ensure advances in basic plant science were translated into crop-based innovations of relevance to commercial plant breeders in the form of adapted germplasm traits markers and breeding tools. The UK governments policy response to the issues raised in the Foresight reportthe UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies Agri-Tech Strategywas announced in July 2013. This represents the strongest INNOVATION POLICIES The policy environment for the UK agritech sector is more positive today than at any time in recent decades driven by increased recognition of the strategic significance of agricultural innovation both in addressing the global food security challenge and as a powerful driver for economic growth. This provides an important platform to highlight the positive contribution of plant breeding and the ongoing challenges the industry faces. A UK PERSPECTIVE