Crops: Climate Change

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 17 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure home grown crops are resilient to climate change, in the context of increased (a) rainfall and (b) warmer weathers.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales on steps to improve crop resilience.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Our fantastic British farmers are world leaders and carefully plan their planting to suit the weather, their soil type and their long-term agronomic strategy. I understand the increasing importance of farmers having access to crop varieties that are resistant to climate change and variable weather conditions, to maintain crop quality and yields.

The third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) was published in July 2023, and addresses the 61 risks and opportunities identified in the third Climate Change Risk Assessment. NAP3 includes dedicated responses to risks to domestic agricultural productivity and UK food availability, safety and quality from climate change overseas.

One of these responses, the recent Precision Breeding Act, is a major step in unlocking growth and innovation in technologies like gene editing and supports Defra’s efforts to reinforce food security in the face of climate change. Through the Act we want to encourage researchers and commercial breeders to be at the forefront of capturing the potential benefits of precision breeding for British farmers and consumers. For instance, research into wheat that is resilient to climate change is currently underway at the John Innes Centre. Gene editing techniques have been used to identify a key gene in wheat that can be used to introduce traits such as heat resilience whilst maintaining high yield. This could help to increase food production from a crop that 2.5 billion people are dependent on globally.

Also included in the NAP3, Defra’s flagship breeding research programme, the Genetic Improvement Networks (GINs) on Wheat, Oil Seed Rape, Pulses and Vegetable crops identify genetic traits to improve productivity, sustainability, resilience and nutritional quality of our crops. The GINs also provide a platform for knowledge exchange for breeders, producers, end users and the research base, and a means for the delivery of scientific knowledge, resources and results to add value to wheat crops.

The £270 million Farming Innovation Programme also supports industry-led research and development in agriculture and horticulture. All projects support productivity and environmental outcomes that will benefit farmers and growers in England. In our latest ‘climate smart’ farming themed competition, we awarded over £11 million to projects investigating novel approaches to growing and managing crops. Previous competitions have also supported crop-related research.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.