Seed World

BBSRC Invests £60M into Rothamsted for New Research

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) announced it is going to fund more than £60m of strategically important research at Rothamsted over the next five years.

The projects will centre around the institute’s core strengths in crop resilience, nutrition and health, food safety and food security, with a focus on more sustainable farming and agriculture.

Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, Professor Angela Karp, says the funding will significantly enhance the Institute’s capability to deliver its world-leading research.

“This investment from BBSRC is a real show of confidence in Rothamsted and our ability to provide solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing society.

“In recent years, our world-class bioscience has helped pave the way for high fibre white bread. It’s made soil maps for every field in Africa possible. It’s led to Europe’s first trial of a genome edited wheat that helps tackle cancer. It has helped find ways of reducing emissions associated with livestock grazing, identified environmental trends such as insect declines, and unearthed how and why carbon is so important for healthy soils that can help fight climate change.

Karp says they look forward to even bigger breakthroughs over the next five years as they prepare for the very great challenges ahead, including global population growth, dwindling resources, and climate change.

“So whether it’s breeding drought resistant crops or engineering plants to act as mini factories, our researchers are urgently seeking the solutions that will ensure the world’s food supply for decades to come.”

Food poverty and food security are currently high on the international agenda, and making sure all people and all nations, regardless of wealth, have access to the best quality foods is vital, she added.

“And of course, underpinning all of this is the imperative to grow food in harmony with the world — by tackling pests and diseases without the use of pesticides; to keep yields up without the use of man-made fertilizers; and by recruiting allies – from trees to insects — to help out our farming systems.”

The research is part of a £376 million package of funding from BBSRC which will be led by the specialist institutes it supports in the UK.

The investment comes following a major review of the institute research programmes BBSRC funds — and is carried out every five years.

The £60.8m of total funding awarded to Rothamsted will be split across five strategic programmes: Growing Health; Resilient Farming Futures; Green Engineering; Designing Sustainable Wheat (led by the John Innes Centre) and AgZero+ (led by CEH and jointly funded by NERC).
Source: Rothamsted Research