Last week we had our third ‘roadshow’ conversation at what had been the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, where again we enjoyed a very useful and helpful dialogue with our community. I also took part in a very useful meeting held by Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington with a number of the Departmental CSAs and Research Council CEOs. These provide a very useful forum for topics where there is the potential for major cross-Government activity. An obvious area of present interest in the UK is the response of both the research base and regulators to the ash die-back disease cause by pathogenic variants of the fungus Chalara fraxinea, where BBSRC and partners had already initiated a call on Tree Health and Plant biosecurity. Hopefully by getting in early we can avoid the levels of tree loss seen with Dutch elm disease.
I also enjoyed a visit to Council member Jim Godfrey’s farm for a series of discussions of modern agriculture and the role of our research therein. It was very striking how very much science, and scientific approaches, do indeed contribute to modern successful agricultural enterprises. [...]