Shropshire university launches initiative exploring agricultural challenges
An initiative to enhance worldwide public understanding of some of the issues facing 21st century agriculture is being launched by a Shropshire's Harper Adams University.
The university, near Newport, has launched the initiative with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation.
The foundation has pledged its support for a five-year period, starting this year.
The scheme will engage with people in the UK, and across the globe, to connect them with knowledge of their food supply chains and encourage participation in ethical debate on the use of technologies in food production.
Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mills said: “Greater levels of information sharing and understanding are needed to help keep an increasingly large urban community aware of where their food comes from and how it is produced.
"We can all benefit from sharing a better understanding of issues relating to agriculture and food production."
Key topics covered by the initiative are likely to include climate change; food production and the environment; conflicting priorities for land use; availability and use of agricultural chemicals; the circular agricultural economy; automation and robotics; renewable energy; alternative protein sources and the management of invasive species.
Many of these topics can be controversial in nature, with conflicting evidence put forward by different interest groups.
The initiative will aim to ensure that the public understanding of agricultural science and technology is based on a balanced view of these issues so that people can reach their own conclusions about food and the way in which it is produced.
It will be led by a newly created chair of public engagement in agriculture and technology, who will establish connections with a national and international community.
The appointment will provide an opportunity to work with a wide range of organisations and to use all appropriate communication channels to better share information on the benefits and risks of new technologies in future food systems.
It is hoped that the new chair will build upon the work of the Government’s National Food Strategy, expected later in 2020.