Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST)

  1.  The IFST is the independent professional qualifying body for food scientists and technologists.

Its purposes are:

    (a)  to serve the public interest by furthering the application of science and technology to all aspects of the supply of safe, wholesome, nutritious and attractive food, nationally and internationally;

    (b)  to advance the standing of food science and technology, both as a subject and as a profession;

    (c)  to assist members in their career and personal development within the profession; and

    (d)  to uphold professional standards of competence and integrity.

  2.  The inquiry is focussed on the role of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. We wish to comment on the role of the Royal Society and that of professional bodies such as IFST.

  3.  The Royal Society is a body whose members are outstanding academic scientists. There is no doubt about the prestige and intellectual quality of the Society and its members. However, the Society is not representative of British science and technology as a whole as it fails to represent the very broad spectrum of science and technology within the UK, and which is of vital importance to the maintenance of the economic competitiveness of the country and the well being of its citizens.

  4.  The Royal Society quite properly recognises the importance of groundbreaking, innovative research. However this tends to lead to a definition of science quality which recognises the novel but does not recognise that major innovations in academic science require a huge effort of applied research and development in order to turn them into practical innovations leading to wealth creation and improvements in the quality of life. As a result of this, applied science and technology such as food science is not per se represented in the Society despite its importance to the country's economy and well being.

  5.  Professional and learned bodies such as the IFST represent a much broader range of science and technology than does the Royal Society and are therefore much more in touch with the mainstream of science and technology in the country.

  6.  Because of the range of expertise and experience encompassed by Institutes such as IFST they are in a very strong position to assemble expert panels in order give objective specialist advice to the Government. The quality and activity of the IFST in providing independent information is evidenced by its long record of objective scientific responses to consultations by government departments and agencies, and by its Information Statements on a number of issues of public concern.

  7.  The funding currently directed to the Royal Society could be more widely dispersed to other learned and professional and scientific societies in order to ensure a wider spread of advice to government and public.

April 2002

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