3rd Feb 2014

The UK Plant Sciences Federation report launch on Tuesday was a great event at the Royal Society. The great and the good of the UK plant science world gathered to celebrate the publication of UK Plant Science: Current Status and Future Challenges.

The launch event had been hotly anticipated on Twitter, where discussion and comments on the report were collected using the hashtag #UKPSFreport.

After a time for mingling over wine and canapés, Society of Biology Chief Executive Mark Downs gave the first speech, introducing guests to the UKPSF and the Society of Biology, of which UKPSF is a special interest group. He thanked the Society of Experimental Biology and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation for supporting the UKPSF.

UKPSF Executive Officer Mimi Tanimoto explained how the report was put together, thanking everyone who responded to surveys last year and commending the plant science community for being open and engaged with the effort.

UKPSF Chair and GARNet grant holder Jim Beynon then took the floor. He used the OpenAshDieback initiative to highlight the excellent research and community spirit of UK plant scientists. The Ash Dieback outbreak was characteristic of the unpredictable, fast-developing challenges UK plant science is expected to face. Beynon warned that without stable, sustained investment in all areas of plant science, in future the community will lack the skills, manpower and funds to take on future challenges.

Ian Crute, Chief Scientist at the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board and UKPSF Executive Committee member, gave the final speech. He too praised the report, saying it is extremely timely as it emphasises how important plant science is to many critical issues including land use, the health of the biosphere, food security, water use.

The report received press coverage in:

Research Fortnight (some sections subscriber only): Editorial: Gardeners’ question time - Why UK plant science (probably) won’t be saved. Also a subscriber-only article on page 5: Plant scientists call for more support as skills shortage begins to bite

BBC Radio 4: Farming Today: Plant science, porridge, agroforestry and oystersInterview with Mimi Tanimoto, roughly 11 minutes in

Farmers Guardian: UK could fall behind without investment in plant science

Farmers Weekly: Plant breeders call for doubling of UK funding

SeedQuest: New UK Plant Sciences Federation report calls for doubling of UK plant science funding

Farm Business: New report calls for doubling of UK plant science funding

BioSpace: UK Risks Losing Out Without Improved Investment In Plant Science

Food Manufacture: UK plant science in crisis because of skills shortages

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk scientists deliver £350m benefit to UK economy

Farming UK: New report calls for doubling of UK plant science funding

Horticulture Week: Report calls for doubling of UK plant science research 

Horticulture Wales: Lack Of Funding Puts UK’s Plant Science Position “Under Threat”