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Food Production (Research)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th December 2009.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party 10:30 am, 10th December 2009

What steps his Department is taking to support research on food production methods.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government invest £254 million a year in food and farming research in England and Wales, and £50 million through Department for International Development research overseas. That covers sustainable farming-reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change and protecting against pests and diseases-and tackling food waste.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party

My right hon. Friend mentioned climate change. Obviously, one of the enormous challenges to agricultural systems around the globe is the capacity of climate change to change agriculture totally. Are we satisfied that research in the UK will ensure security of food supply from our domestic producers, come what may with climate change?

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Adapting to climate change is, as my hon. Friend indicates, an important task for the farming industry, and a significant proportion of the research that we are funding looks at that. To take a practical example, some very good research is being done at East Malling Research into the ability to produce crops using less water, which will benefit horticulture growers in the country.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Parliamentary Private Secretary To the Leader of the Opposition

What will be the impact on food production of the decision to discontinue weed cutting in the lower Avon valley? Is the Secretary of State prepared to meet a delegation of farmers to review the matter?

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As always, I would be very happy to meet a delegation with the hon. Gentleman.

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