SCIENTISTS in the world of bioeconomy need to brought closer to farmers in North Yorkshire to improve agricultural productivity, urged Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, speaking at a weekend conference organised by Yorkshire universities.

She told peers, academics, researchers and business and civic leaders at York University: “Agri technology and research are extremely important in North Yorkshire.”

The government’s environment, food and rural affairs select committee recently published a report on food security. Ms McIntosh said: “The UK is currently 68 per cent self-sufficient in food produced at home, but this has declined over the past 20 years, from 87 per cent. The report says the biggest long-term challenge to food production systems is climate change.”

She said one response could be sustainable intensification: increasing global food supply while minimising negative impact on the environment.

“The government should aim to inform the public about the potential beneficial impact of growing GM crops in the UK and encourage a public debate about GM crops and also counter safety fears about the consumption of GM.”

She called for lead times for research grants, currently at three years, to be five years.