Tag: farming

  • Celebrations, talks and bioenergy

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    As we near the Christmas holidays (and this will be the last blog of 2011), I can look back on an exceptional year of achievement for BBSRC: a ring-fenced budget, many exciting scientific breakthroughs, the maintenance of the UK as the premier nation in biology, and a slew of recent announcements of large capital sums awarded for important biological projects. A measure of this was my latest quarterly talk to staff last week, in which I listed some of these, that occupied fully 90 minutes.

    Much of the rest of the week was punctuated by celebratory events, including a trip to St James’s Palace to launch and take forward thinking on the Festival of food and farming (“Farming in the Park”) taking place in Hyde Park in September 2013. Among the speeches, including one from Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we were honoured to be addressed by His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who spoke eloquently and without notes on the importance of British farming and food, as well as providing a witty and entertaining history of our palatial surrounding. […]

  • Celebrating scientific successes

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week was an unusually celebratory one, in that I attended a number of functions that involved celebrations of UK and more general scientific endeavours. One function, including a flash-bang pyrotechnic display and sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, was arranged at the House of Commons to celebrate the launch of the International Year of Chemistry. Another at the University of Manchester celebrated the award of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, while on Tuesday I attended the launch of the astonishingly comprehensive and authoritative Global Food and Farming Futures Foresight report.  I also attended the annual celebration of the BioIndustry Association, also attended by the winners of the Biotechnology YES competition that we co-sponsor. […]

  • Bird flu, farming and science education

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    A Happy New Year to all! Christmas as usual provided the opportunity for some reading, both light-hearted and serious (cricket counts in both categories), a mainly light-hearted one being a summary of the ‘valedictory’ despatches of various British ambassadors. This said, it combined some serious analysis with profound point-scoring and more than a sprinkling of elegant phrases and bons mots. Notwithstanding the evidently classical education of most Ambassadors, the following (dated 1973) might apply to more countries than that of this particular Ambassador’s posting: “A small country which badly needs carpenters, plumbers, engineers and so forth, is turning out third-rate lawyers and sociologists by the dozen.” One of the more serious books I read was a survey of the past and likely future demographics of avian flu, while another was a masterful analysis by Nobelist Joseph Stiglitz of the causes (and potential cures – sadly not yet being enacted) of the global financial crisis of 2008. […]

  • Young biotechnologists, farming and development.

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    An early and pleasant engagement last week was the finals of the 2010 Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme), which we have co-sponsored from its inception, and that involves teams of research students and postdocs in dreaming up a biotech business and how they would best developed (and ultimately make money from) a plausible and desirable (but usually hypothetical) product. It was of particular interest to me that this year’s winners, whose proposal related to nitrogen fixation in crop plants, were in fact led from the cardiovascular section of a medical school – a great illustration of the importance of multidisciplinarity in modern biology. We have already initiated next year’s competition. […]

  • Foresight, Food and Farming Futures – 65,535

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    It is very much not news that food security has come high up the scientific and social agenda (with the Russian wheat harvest, and wheat prices more generally, in the news – and one can listen also to Sir John Beddington on the Today programme last week), that we continue to pump fossil-fuel-derived CO2 into the atmosphere at our peril, that our source of bioenergy and chemicals in the not-too-distant future is going to have to be that very CO2 itself as fixed by photosynthesis, and that BBSRC is ready to lead the scientific response to these challenges. […]