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ExIST Respond to Warning from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee

ExIST Respond to Warning from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee

Written: 03 July 2014

Following Tuesday’s warning from the environment, food and rural affairs (Efra) select committee that the UK’s self-sufficiency for food that can be grown domestically has fallen from 87% to 68% in 20 years, the Exeter Initiative for Science and Technology (ExIST) have highlighted their planned conference ‘the impact of data, science and technology on food security and production’ taking place at the Forum, University of Exeter on 4 September 2014.

Professor Sarah Gurr, Chair in Food Security at the University of Exeter and a speaker at the conference, said:  “We are becoming increasingly aware of issues surrounding global food security and, indeed, of our own needs to improve sustainability and self-sufficiency in the UK. In July 2013, the Government recognised the importance of the agricultural technology sector to the UK economy by launching a £160m UK strategy for AgriTech. This is a welcome step in the right direction  - we need now to embrace all technologies that we can muster in our quest for greater sustainability”

John Lee, Chairman of Mole Avon and the chairman of the Conference, said: “I welcome the article in today’s Guardian which highlights the significant decline in domestically grown food in the UK over the past 20 years. The report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is clear in that urgent action needs to be taken if we, as a nation are not going to put our future food supply in jeopardy and not reliant on vulnerable imports. The Exist conference is the perfect opportunity to examine in detail the challenge and the opportunities for UK agriculture”

Robert McIlwraith, chairman of ExIST said “the ExIST conference programme has been designed to discuss the ways in which technological development can address the UK’s self-sufficiency issues, with experts from the Royal Agricultural University, the University of Exeter, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Met Office and Syngenta participating in the day.  Interest from attendees is already strong, indicating that there is recognition of the increasing opportunity for Westcountry science and technology business to contribute to the food self-sufficiency solution.”

To hear from the experts and contribute to the debate, tickets are available for the one day conference from or by phoning Exeter Chamber of Commerce on 01392 431133.  An early bird ticket price of £48 per person is available until 1August 2014.