Tag: food security

  • Food, agriculture, text mining, Brazil and manufacturing

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    The report of the Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures (GFFF) Group was released in January 2011, and I attended a One Year On meeting of its ‘High Level Stakeholder Group’ that looked  at the already considerable impacts it has had on both thinking and action (not least that of BBSRC). One of these is the appointment of a Food Security Champion, Professor Tim Benton, with whom I also had a useful catch-up on the very many activities that are going on in the Food Security space.

    Food and agriculture, as well as Industrial Biotechnology, also figured largely in a meeting I had with Mary Creagh, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Brazil is, of course, an agricultural superpower, and we had a very useful meeting with Professors Glaucius Oliva (Head of the CNPq funding agency) and João Carlos Teatini (Head of the CAPES agency, that mainly looks after graduate education). We already have many excellent links with Brazil, including a LabEx (laboratory exchange) scheme with the Agricultural Research agency Embrapa (and whose Head I also saw at the GFFF meeting); we now anticipate strengthening these further. [...]

  • Sustainability, media and e-infrastructure

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    It is obvious (not least from the recent recognition of the effects of anthropogenic climate change) that we shall have to move rather soon to sustainable means of living that do not rely on fossil fuels, that solar energy in various guises is going to (have to) provide the wherewithal, and that research in biology sensu lato will make a major contribution to our success. Most relevant industries recognise this already, and are already gearing up to derive their materials from environmentally sustainable sources. This agenda lies at the core of our strategies in global food security and in bioenergy and sustainable industrial biotechnology (the BioEconomy).

    We are developing these in many ways, one of which – on innovative approaches to improving photosynthetic efficiency – was highlighted at a session that we sponsored at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (A very interesting biochemical network model of photosynthesis has just appeared, that with other methods may serve as a useful starting point for the bioengineering-based improvement of photosynthesis.) [...]

  • Athena Swan, Exploiting New Ways of Working, East Malling, and The Two Cultures

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Among last week’s meetings was one to discuss how we might best take forward our implementation of the Athena Swan arrangements, and in particular the development of requirements for our fundees to have done so (by applying for and achieving the necessary charter awards), probably in the manner set down by the NIHR for bids to become Biomedical Research Centres.

    I managed to attend the dinner discussion of the first meeting of our new Exploiting New Ways of Working Panel, and also had a first meeting since his appointment with Tim Benton, the new Global Food Security Champion. [...]

  • Food security, open access and mobile computing

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week was a week of very necessary catching up with a lot of paperwork I had purposely allowed to accumulate, with comparatively few external engagements to report, although I did attend an event held as part of the upcoming celebrations of the University of Warwick’s half-century. Such meetings provide a welcome opportunity for discussions with senior managers of Higher Education Institutes, with whom the Research Councils anticipate ever-closer working relationships. I also served on an interview panel for the Global Food Security Champion role. 

    This week I shall thus mainly extemporise, based on recent papers or websites to which I was alerted, about a few of the areas that hold our interest. First was (appropriately enough) an Open Access (OA) paper on the development of Open Access from 1993 to 2009. While its contents can be read by following the link, it is worth noting that the average annual increase in OA papers since 2000 has been 30%. It would seem that the trend towards virtually universal OA publishing is (happily) now irreversible. [...]

  • Science, society, plant breeding and bioinformatics

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Visits to Higher Education Institutes and the like are a significant part of our dialogue, and last week I was pleased to visit the University of Liverpool (whose Vice Chancellor, Sir Howard Newby, is also Chair of the Rural Economy and Land Use scheme). As part of this I was delighted to do the honours at the formal opening of a superb new Proteomics Laboratory at the University, bringing together an enviable suite of state-of-the-art mass spectrometers and related equipment, along with the necessary information management. Following this, I delivered a lecture in the University’s Science in Society series, with the (given) title “Why should the taxpayer fund biosciences research?”. The answers are indeed very obvious, whether from the point of view of its contribution to the economy (see e.g. here and here) or from its role in solving most of the grand challenges faced by Society, leave alone the massive public interest in science and technology. It will be important that we engage constructively with that public interest so that individuals and groups across society may participate in shaping how scientific advances are pursued and deployed to maximise social benefits. [...]