Professor Douglas Kell is the Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in the UK and he says that without an additional £100m a year being spent on crop research in Britain, there could be food riots in developing countries as the growing world population fails to find enough affordable food.
Investigating improvements in crop yields is one way that the developed world could help to secure food supplies for the planet as a whole. And, he claims, the UK would see economic benefits from this research investment.
To put the research cost into proportion, Kell says that the £100 million that BBSRC seeks would increase its budget by nearly 50% but is still only around the same as one day’s expenditure on the disastrous Foot and Mouth epidemic in the UK in 2001. This is a timely warning for a world teetering on the edge of panic related to the swine flu or (as US farmers would prefer) H1N1 virus which may soon be declared a pandemic.