Thursday, 11 July 2013

Agriculture: Genetically and Non-genetically Modified Food


House of Lords

I recently wrote how agri-tech is moving up a notch.  Here is evidence to show how our tax money has been spent by the government in preparation for this move.  It proves that the common sense view that agri-tech has nothing (or very little) to do with natural food production is correct.  It also shows that a lot of work is being done to move in this B'org direction.

The Countess of Mar (Crossbench)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the breakdown of spending by (1) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and (2) the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, in each of (a) genetically modified (GM) crops; (b) non-GM agricultural biotechnology; (c) marker-assisted selection; (d) home-grown protein sources for livestock; (e) agroecology; and (f) organic farming, in the past five years.

·         Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 10 July 2013, c43W)

Lord de Mauley (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)

Over the last five years Defra has spent an average of £29m per annum on food and farming research out of a total of £400m spent by government, including research councils. However, it is not possible to provide a breakdown as requested. Agricultural biotechnology, marker-assisted selection and agroecology may all play a part in a variety of the research projects we undertake relating to farming systems.

The breakdown of the spending by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is as follows:

a) genetically modified (GM) crops

Annual Spend £M
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
GM Crops (specific)1
5.7
3.8
4.8
4.4
3.3
GM Crops (direct)2
4.7
8.3
11.1
10.2
9.3
GM Crops (total)
10.4
12.1
15.9
14.6
12.5
Total Crop Science
40.5
45.5
50.5
49.8
49.3

1 research involving the use or the production of a GM crop, usually to enable enhanced agricultural traits (e.g. stress-tolerance or disease resistance in wheat).

2 crop research involving the use or the production of a GM crop to further biological understanding of the plant (e.g. genetically modifying a protein to understand its function in the plant).

b) non-GM agricultural biotechnology

No breakdown figure available for non-GM agricultural biotechnology.

Overall spend in agri-technology sector, based on spend on crop science, farmed animal health and welfare, and agricultural systems.

Annual Spend (£M)
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Total for Agri- technology
79.6
82.1
80.8
83.3

c) marker-assisted selection

Estimated figure for crops only.

Annual Spend £M
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Marker assisted breeding, in crops1
8.9
10.0
11.1
11.0
10.8
Total Crop Science
40.5
45.5
50.5
49.8
49.3

1 An estimated figure calculated as 22% of the total crop science spend and based on analysis figures from 2007/08 and 2008/09. Note there is significant effort in marker assisted breeding in crops and livestock undertaken at BBSRC strategically funded institutes so estimated figures above are likely to be underestimated.

d) home-grown protein sources for livestock

No figures available. However, please note the BBSRC has provided funding to the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University in support of research on ryegrass and clover as feedstocks.

e) agroecology

Figure for agricultural systems1 which includes agroecology but no further breakdown available.

Annual Spend (EM)
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Agricultural Systems1
9.2
8.0
8.0
9.5

1 Studies of agricultural landscapes and systems (including mathematical modelling) and effects of agriculture on ecosystems and the environment; soil science; interactions of crop farming practices with the environment (e.g. pollution of water supplies, effects on biodiversity); impacts of climatic and other environmental factors on agricultural systems (e.g. effects on productivity and pest and disease management; impact on biodiversity, soils and the aquatic environment, when set in an agricultural context; breeding of crops and livestock to circumvent negative effects of climate change; relevant factors include temperature, gases, water (drought and flooding), wind, sunlight and salinity.

f) organic farming

Estimated as approximately 1% of agri-technology spend (see response to part b), based on analysis data from 2006/07.

Please note that spend figures for 2012/13 are currently being processed and therefore unavailable.