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UK: Agri-Innovation Minister visits the John Innes Centre

Newly appointed Agri-Innovation Minister Jo Churchill MP visited the John Innes Centre to find out more about the impact delivered through research, particularly in regards to generating resources to support crop breeding in the UK. During the visit, the Minister heard about the longstanding relationship between Defra and the John Innes Centre and was introduced to several projects funded by the department on a tour of the research facilities.

Director of the John Innes Centre, Professor Dale Sanders, spoke to the Minister about the John Innes Centre’s ambitions, including their work with The Sainsbury Laboratory and UKRI-BBSRC to develop a world-leading hub for plant and microbial science at the Norwich Research Park, and the Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet (HP3) vision.

The tour was led by Professor Claire Domoney and Dr. Simon Griffiths, who introduced the Genetic Improvement Networks. These large collaborative projects are part-funded by Defra to bring together researchers, farmers, agronomists, and breeders to generate new resources for crop breeding in the UK.

The Minister visited the Germplasm Resource Unit and the glasshouses to see the genetic diversity in the large collections of wheat, peas, and other crops on site. The final stop on the tour was a visit to the Crop Transformation team to discuss gene editing with Professor Wendy Harwood, particularly topical following a recent announcement from Defra on the future of regulation of genetic technologies.

The visit was organized as part of Evidence Week in Westminster, an annual event organized by Sense About Science to bring together scientists and parliamentarians to discuss science and evidence in policymaking. The John Innes Centre was supported by the John Innes Foundation to be a partner for Evidence Week 2021.

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