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Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Laura Sandys Laura Sandys Conservative, South Thanet

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to promote innovation in the biotechnology sector for the purposes of enhancing food security.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government invest about £400 million per annum on agriculture and food research, including up to £90 million over five years through the Technology Strategy Board's Sustainable Agriculture and Food Platform (co-funded by DEFRA and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), which provides a key mechanism for driving industry-led innovation to stimulate the development of new technologies to support a competitive, environmentally sustainable farming and resilient food sector.

Government funders, industry and third sector bodies are working together through the Government's Chief Scientist Food Research Partnership and the Global Food Security programme to ensure that multi-disciplinary research is robust relevant and providing good value for money.

DEFRA is also funding collaborative research and development and innovation activities to promote a more sustainable, resilient and competitive food chain.

To strengthen agricultural research and innovation, the Government are actively building links and joint initiatives, for example through membership of the EU Joint Programming initiative which aims to maximise member state benefit from R&D funding, and the Global Research Alliance which aims to find ways of reducing greenhouse gas through international collaboration.

The Government also recognise that GM technology could deliver benefits providing it is used safely and responsibly, in particular as one of a range of tools to address the longer term challenges of global food security, climate change, and the need for more sustainable agricultural production.

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