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APPG-Agscience Jan 28 th 2009 The need to recreate a public sector crop germplasm improvement program Plant Science research policy needs to be joined.

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Presentation on theme: "APPG-Agscience Jan 28 th 2009 The need to recreate a public sector crop germplasm improvement program Plant Science research policy needs to be joined."— Presentation transcript:

1 APPG-Agscience Jan 28 th 2009 The need to recreate a public sector crop germplasm improvement program Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up between Gov Depts Jonathan Jones

2 PhD Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) 1980 PostDoc Harvard Scientist at Agbiotech company AGS Berkeley, CA (>25 years of GM plants) Sainsbury Lab since 1988 Cofounded Cofounded Norfolk Plant Sciences 2008 (purple tomatoes and disease resistance)

3 Bold assertions Food price rises not “just a blip”; main driver is increased demand for meat from world middle class Agriculture has a huge environmental impact; how can we minimize it? Yield is good Genetics constrains crop performance; crop genotypes can be improved Leaving it to market is not enough; margins in seeds biz too low for big private investment in non-hybrids eg wheat New genomics methods create new opportunities, but investment not made if returns too low We need public sector germplasm improvement programs for wheat, rapeseed, and maybe others The PBI was the envy of the world, placing top basic science adjacent to top plant breeders Scientist/breeder synergy a major opportunity Privatisation of PBI in 1987 a mistake; the “pipeline” was narrowed; how best to reverse this mistake?

4 Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up -Public investment needs to be long term -Research capacity cannot be switched on and off like a tap in response to changes in political fashion -Crop Science review; solution is not one-off funding -Public sector involvement critical to public acceptance of new technology for food production -DFID/BBSRC/DEFRA need to work and fund together -Devolution unhelpful- excellent SCRI scientists ineligible for BBSRC funding -Rethink of food production, sustainable land use, private/public balance, justifies a Foresight exercise

5 Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up Treasury push for economic impact of UK science but… -Main output for plant science is crop varieties with improved performance -Performance means more yield with less water, nitrogen, fungicides, pesticides……. -“Models to crops” problematic (“unhelpful linear model for KT- CFG 4.3) -Public sector plant breeding and training has collapsed -Private sector has focused on most profitable crops eg maize, soy, cotton -Wheat becoming an “orphan crop”; profits limited by farm-saved seed, low incentive for private investment despite public good; market failure

6 Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up Treasury seeks economic impact of excellent UK plant science but…………. -Technically, easiest route for public sector science is via GM -GM is safe, effective, fast -Complete GM buy-in from plant science community; no “whistleblowers” with scientific credibility -Tainted perception of GM creates big opportunity costs; projects not started, young talent not recruited -Lack of public sector GM delivery exacerbates public fears -Public sector can’t afford the absurd regulatory costs; private sector domination becomes self-fulfilling prophecy -Government needs to support GM route to market for public sector discoveries -Could we declare GM independence from Brussels? (NB I’m not a UKIP member!)

7 Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up Wheat is a good example of the problem -Farm gate value of wheat in UK ~£1.5B -10% yield increase would be worth £150M/yr -Seed sales to farmers ~£60M; royalties £14M -If you get 25% market share, £3.5m/year royalty -Why would a company spend £20M to increase yield 10% if they can’t get their money back? (NB Monsanto spends >$600m) Market failure -Wheat is in real danger of becoming an “orphan crop”

8 What would public wheat breeding do that private would not? -Active use of genetic resources; opening genetic bottleneck by repeatedly re-synthesizing wheat -international collaboration (good for the developing world) -Introgression of diversity into elite genetic backgrounds -Hybrid wheat -Enhanced discovery/deployment of genomics for breeding -Genetic mapping and cloning of genes for valuable QTLs; helps private sector breeders -Judicious testing of GM traits for water, N use efficiency, disease resistance etc - Public sector advocacy should enhance GM acceptability -GM likely best solution to take-all disease -Training the next generation of plant breeders -If C4 rice works, incorporate into wheat

9 Which agencies should support public sector crop breeding? -BBSRC? Breeding not research, but good experience, programs at JIC, RR, IBERS and NIAB -DEFRA? DEFRA does not act like it has a crop yield enhancement mission -TSB? Uncomfortable in ag; unfortunately looks to DEFRA for guidance -Dept Energy? Biomass crops need better yield from all crops; should be on their agenda -DFID? Improved germplasm essential for improved yields; training breeders of great value -They have to work together! -NB- US Interagency working group on plant genomics

10 The US National Plant Genome Initiative

11 NPGI Goals To understand the structure and function of all plant genes at levels from the molecular to the organismal levels and on to interactions within ecosystems The focus is on plants of economic importance and plant processes of potential economic value

12 NPGI Participants National Science Foundation (NSF) US Department of Agriculture (USDA) US Department of Energy (DOE) National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) US Agency for International Development (USAID)

13 Problem and a possible solution -AFRC lost its commitment to ag science when merged with SERC to make BBSRC in 1990s -BBSRC can tap into good expertise and has a credible and effective peer review mechanism -DEFRA has the right mission, but lacks science competence to judge/lead germplasm improvement -DEFRA only seems to fund research to support policy development, not problem solving -DFID set DEFRA a good example, using BBSRC peer review to judge proposals congruent with its mission -DEFRA should do the same, or transfer research funds to BBSRC

14 The view from the US private sector -Monsanto projects a doubling of maize and soy yields by % due to enhanced breeding, 50% from biotech traits -This year “triple stack” maize the biggest seller (RR, earworm, rootworm) “Smartstack” (8 transgene) maize -By 2015 > 20 transgenes for insect resistance, N use efficiency, drought tolerance etc -Europe is being left in the dust!

15 ADVANCES ASSISTING IN PROTECTING AND BOOSTING YIELDS The Combination of Biotechnology and Breeding Can Maximize Yield Gains Molecular Breeding Benefit Biotechnology Yield Benefit Grain Yield Potential in 2030 Historical Yield Data 30-Year Trend, Based on Historical Yield Data Sizable Gains Will Be Realized From Marker- Assisted Breeding Average Corn Yield (in bushels per acre) Average U.S. Corn Yield in 2007 was 151 Bushels Per Acre INNOVATIONS IN AG TECHNOLOGY THROUGHOUT THE VALUE CHAIN CONTRIBUTE TO YIELD GAIN

16 The Combination of Breeding, Agronomic Practice Improvements and Biotech Can Maximize Yield Gains CORN YIELD POTENTIAL TO 2030 IN THE UNITED STATES

17 Rain Shelter Trial Corn Plot at A Monsanto Research Site YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 YieldGard Corn Borer with Roundup Ready Corn 2 + Force® insecticide YieldGard® Corn Borer with Roundup Ready Corn 2 Roundup Ready® Corn 2 HT Yield = 94 bu/ac CB Protection +HT Yield = bu/ac Soil-applied RW Protection +CB Protection +HT Yield = 150 bu/ac RW Protection +CB Protection +HT Yield = bu/ac Gallons of Ethanol 535 Pounds of Feed 3,170 Gallons of Ethanol 254 Pounds of Feed 1,504 Gallons of Ethanol 307 Pounds of Feed 1,819 Gallons of Ethanol 405 Pounds of Feed 2,400 Positive Effects of Stress Mitigation Are Compounded by the Stacking of Biotech Traits

18 Produce More, Conserve More: Pesticide, Nitrogen, Rainfall Use Declining In Corn NOTE: ONE POUND OF NITROGEN = 24,500 BTUS DECLINING PESTICIDE USE RATES IN U.S. CORN NITROGEN USE EFFICIENCY IN CORN Data Source: USDA, NASS “Agricultural Chemical Usage Report”; dmrkynetec; NOAA RAINFALL USE EFFICIENCY IN CORN

19 Yield (bu/a) Population (stalks/a) Conventional Biotech Era Yield Gains With Plant Population Increases PLANT POPULATION FARM PROGRESS DEMONSTRATION

20 Plant Science research policy needs to be joined up -Thinking in DEFRA, BBSRC, DFID, Energy, TSB needs to be coordinated -Major investment needed in public sector breeding & training next generation of breeders -Private sector (Monsanto, DuPont) have genes for drought tolerance, N use efficiency etc; We should make private/public GM partnerships to test their (or our) transgenes in our varieties in our environments -Directive 91/414 increases urgency of elevating disease and pest resistance in crops

21 Exsept v Riband Septoria resistance

22 Colossal gains are being made in the US private sector for profitable crops such as maize Wheat in Europe could and should share in those gains; lack of market incentive mandates PUBLIC investment We need long term funding for public sector plant breeding; needs to be led by a leading breeder, almost certainly recruited from private sector (discussions in progress) S/he needs sufficient budget to be independent The program should take advantage of JIC/RR/ NIAB/SCRI/IBERS resources of land, science etc Current JIC/NIAB/RR etc discussions will lead to a proposal via BBSRC from RCUK for CSR-09 as part of food security; you should support it !

23 (The results of plant breeding- Is this natural ?! ) Thanks- questions?


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