Royal Society food security discussions published in special issue edited by UK scientists

18th Feb 2014

Professor John Pickett and Dr Michael Birkett of Rothamsted Research, Professor Guy Poppy from the University of Southampton and Dr Paul Jepson of the University of Oxford are co-editors of the current issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The issue is based on a discussion meeting held at the Royal Society, London, in December 2012, and an accompanying satellite conference at the Kavli Royal Society Centre at Chicheley Hall.

The issue provides a timely reminder that science has a crucial role to play in achieving SI. It reports the capacity for significant advances in the plant sciences that are already supporting advances in crop production internationally. However, it also highlights analyses of the current status of human, ecological and environmental health in sub-Saharan Africa and reveals that we have a long way to go before SI can be fully realised.

The ‘Kavli Declaration' that was proposed and signed by scientists at the meeting sets out a global vision for 2050 and calls for a more scientific approach to Sustainable intensification (SI) of crop production - a process whereby the yield increases but the impact on the land is minimal. It calls for a transformation in agricultural systems that focuses upon efficient resource use and the restoration and conservation of degraded lands to meet both our food production and environmental goals.

The journal's authors say that a wider debate on the world's most pressing questions needs to take place and we need to get better at protecting the environment and reacting when contaminations happen. Additionally investment and creativity is needed within new scientific technology so we develop plants or management practices which allow crops to protect themselves more effectively. Crucially, how we view the environment needs to evolve so that agriculture is seen as part of the environment and not something separate from all other ecosystems.

The current issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B is available online. Some papers are open access.

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