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UK scientists come together to help feed the 7 billion

The Universities of Exeter and Bristol, in partnership with Rothamsted Research have officially joined forces to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing humanity: how can we sustainably feed a growing population?

The Food Security and Land Research Alliance launched at the House of Commons on 26 October amidst reports that the world population is on the brink of reaching seven billion.

The Alliance brings together world-class expertise across a range of disciplines, from biosciences and agricultural science to economics and the humanities. It will establish the South West of England as a centre of global significance in the arena of food security and land research.

Projects that the Alliance is working on include:

  • Finding wheat varieties that can stand the heat of global warming
  • A cropping system to double maize yields
  • Bringing previously unusable agricultural land into production
  • Working with farmers to find solutions to dairy cattle lameness and feather-pecking in laying hens
  • Improving controls of irrigation systems to save water

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter said: "Ensuring global food security is without question one of the biggest challenges facing humanity and it can only be achieved by dramatic increases in food availability across the world. At the same time the pressure escalates to use land to satisfy demands other than for agricultural commodities. The need for research to help secure global food security and ensure resilient land management lies at the heart of the new Alliance."

Professor Alistair Hetherington, Faculty of Science Research Director at the University of Bristol said: "Our three institutions are strongly placed to address this challenge through world-class research. Together we hold a huge range of expertise, encompassing bioscientists engaged in tackling crop diseases, leading work on farm animal

Contact: Sarah Hoyle
University of Exeter

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