CHAPTER 5: Knowledge transfer and innovation
"... knowledge is no good unless it can
be used by those who benefit from it."
Mr Tony Pexton, Board Chairman, National Institute
of Agricultural Botany
84. In our report on adapting EU agriculture
and forestry to climate change,
we concluded that knowledge gained from research or from others'
experience must be communicated to farmers in a practical, helpful
and useable way. Such communication of information is known as
"knowledge transfer". Knowledge can also be exchanged
between a farmer and a researcher to mutual benefit, from where
the term "knowledge exchange" is derived. A further
level of complexity is introduced by the concept of a "knowledge
and innovation system", involving a network of interested
organisations, enterprises and individuals. In relation to agriculture,
all three concepts apply and we discuss their application in this
chapter. Our considerations also take in the communication of
knowledge about agricultural innovations to consumers.
85. As regards EU policy, it should be noted
that, under the Common Agricultural Policy,
Member States have the obligation to operate a system for advising
farmers on land and farm management: this is the Farm Advisory
System (FAS: see Box 9). Some financing is available under Pillar
2 of the CAP (the Rural Development Fund) to support provision
of the FAS in two ways. First, farmers' use of farm advisory services
may be co-financed up to a maximum amount of 1500 per farmer.
Second, Member States may co-finance the establishment of farm
advisory services, using degressive support over a maximum period
of five years.
The Farm Advisory System (FAS)
In each Member State, the CAP's FAS may be operated
by one or more designated authorities or by private bodies. The
FAS should offer advice on matters relating at least to cross-compliance,
under which CAP support is paid in full only if farmers meet certain
requirements relating to the environment, food safety, animal
health and animal welfare. Participation in the FAS is voluntary
for farmers, and Member States may give priority to certain farmers
at their own discretion.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
86. In line with the conclusion of our previous
inquiry, we were left in no doubt by witnesses that knowledge
transfer remained a key consideration.
Mr de Castro and the European Commission both underlined
the need to bridge the gap between academic research findings
and the farm.
Pete Riley of GM Freeze recognised that the push for sustainable
farming systems, based around agro-ecology, demanded knowledge
transfer in order that farmers know how to conserve nutrients
and manage organic waste.
87. Some witnesses made a distinction between
knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange. With a focus on knowledge
exchange, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
agreed that "innovation is certainly fostered by a close
and regular two-way interaction between researchers and end-users
such as farmers, processors or suppliers of products."
The co-existence of both knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange
was highlighted by Incrops, who noted that some particularly innovative
businesses will wish to engage with scientists, but "the
majority will in the main want to utilise existing research to
improve processes or products."
The NFU indicated that knowledge exchange is essential "to
improve knowledge transfer and ensure research is informed by,
and well-aligned, to industry needs."
We see knowledge exchange as intrinsic to the systems approach
to agriculture, which we explore further below.
METHODS AND DIVERSITY OF KNOWLEDGE
88. Knowledge is transferred in a variety of
ways. First, the transfer may be through advisory services, which
may be publicly or privately financed. In Denmark, for example,
"the main body is the advisory service",
and this was similarly the case in Poland, through advisory services
run by national and local government.
89. Second, industry acts as a conduit for knowledge.
In terms of plant breeding, large companies are generally responsible
for knowledge transfer for farmers: ultimately, private companies
will sell their seed to farmers.
We heard that this is also the case in Denmark, Poland and the
Polish Government added that machinery companies also offer advice
but observed that the interests of a manufacturer may not always
be economically aligned with those of a farmer.
John Deere, a machinery manufacturer, confirmed this to be true,
and observed that their information is consequently viewed with
some scepticism by the farming community.
90. Third, a wide range of private consultancies,
non-governmental organisations and non-departmental public bodies
may also be involved in knowledge transfer. In England, there
is an array of organisations, such as ADAS, TAG-NIAB, Velcourt,
RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Soil Association.
Within this range, an important role can be played by farmer-funded
bodies, such as the levy bodies
in England. All these organisations may deploy various techniques
in order to offer information and advice, one of which is the
use of demonstration farms.
This is a model run by Morrison's through their own demonstration
farm, by which the company accepts the risk for innovations that
can then be taken up by their supplier farmers.
Other techniques cited by the NFU were one-to-one advice, workshops,
fact sheets and trade press articles.
Emma Hockridge explained to us that the Soil Association holds
regular seminars, which tend to be very popular.
91. Finally, we heard about the sharing of information
between peers, which is valuable in persuading the more risk-averse
to adopt new technologies or practices.
The Polish Government commented that, "if one farmer does
something, the others will observe what happens and then the next
farmer will follow".
92. Above all, it was emphasised to us that a
diverse range of approaches to knowledge transfer is indeed appropriateacross
Member States and regions and between farmers and sectors. Both
the UK Government and the Dutch Government told us that "one
size" will not "fit all."
Similarly, the NFU stated: "farmers are highly diverse in
terms of their needs, attitudes and capabilities in the adoption
of knowledge transfer."
Dr Vriesekoop also commented that farmers in different parts
of Europe have disparate needs. While some might look to demonstration
farms, others (such as the Dutch) might seek to solve a problem
93. The diverse nature of agricultural systems
also needs to be taken into account. The Spanish INIA emphasised
the "complex and unique" nature of Spanish agriculture,
referring to fragmented land ownership and a very broad diversity
of crops. INRA
similarly reminded us that agricultural systems and societal structures
differ across Europe.
Mr de Castro emphasised that there was a need to take as
local an approach as possible.
Evidence from the Dutch Government underlined the relevance of
economic histories to the differing development of agricultural
was suggested that it might be difficult to encourage a step change
in innovation without a major economic crisis affecting the industry.
94. We note the diversity of methods used in
order to transfer knowledge. Consequently, we conclude that
there is no one single solution that is applicable across the
EU. Knowledge transfer is complex: it must be fine-tuned to national
and regional practice and, as far as possible, to individual farmers.
95. In the course of our inquiry, we were keen
to understand how different Member States approached agricultural
knowledge transfer. We were helped by a European Commission report
in November 2010 on the application of the Farm Advisory System
(see Box 10),
which was accompanied by a full analysis.
The report focused on delivery of the minimum FAS required under
the CAP and did not examine the totality of farm advice available
through various sources in each Member State. Indeed, the Commission
observed that, in around half of the Member States, the FAS was
set up as a specific service and in others was interwoven with
96. The analysis and report suggested that the
FAS is still work in progress, and recommended that it be strengthened
under the revised Common Agricultural Policy, a suggestion supported
by Mr de Castro.
In evidence to us, the Commission explained that the FAS "works
in some countries but not as well as in others", for various
reasons: lack of trust by farmers, excessive administration and
hesitation to use private consultants.
Instead, farm advice should "be seen by farmers as something
that helps them to do things better, to make better decisions
and better investments."
This should be with the aim of promoting both sustainability and
Commission Report on application of FAS
The Commission made the following observations on
the state of play in Member States:
in 24 Member States, the FAS is coordinated
and supervised by public bodies (although it might be delivered
by a private body, such as in England);
in 14 Member States, the FAS focuses strictly
the most widely adopted approaches were on-farm
one-to-one advice (with the sole exception of England) and on-farm
small group discussions;
the main beneficiaries of the FAS have been
(and some Member States reported problems in reaching smaller
across the EU, only 5% of farmers receiving
the single farm payment received FAS advice in 2008.
97. COPA-COGECA would like to see FAS extended
beyond cross-compliance, and particularly to meeting new challenges
such as climate changefor example, encouraging drought-resistant
crops. Mr Paice
agreed that the FAS should be extended beyond cross-compliance,
and added that the Government had prolonged the current contract
for the provision of cross-compliance advice until the end of
2011 in order to give them time to consider options for future
delivery of advice.
98. The introduction of the Farm Advisory
System at the time of the last CAP reform was welcome, but the
time has now come to extend it beyond cross-compliance. We recommend
that there should be an obligation under the CAP for Member States
to ensure that comprehensive farm advice is available throughout
their territories, geared towards meeting the new challenges of
food security, climate change and the need for sustainable intensification.
This would require Member States to give this issue full attention,
and would allow the European Commission to monitor progress.
99. In the course of our evidence, the picture
painted of knowledge transfer in England was of a disjointed and
complex system lacking direction. A proliferation of independent
agronomists and representatives of seed companies can result in
the provision of conflicting advice to farmers. This was recognised
as an issue by one of those private consultancies, ADAS, but they
were not sure how the problem might be addressed.
Mr Paice described the system as "complicated and pretty
Richardson lamented the demise of a publicly funded farm advisory
system in England, concluding that the links between research
and the farm "have withered significantly."
NIAB and John Deere both agreed that an independent advisory body
of some sort would be useful, able to give advice without "a
commercial bent to it all the time."
By contrast, evidence that we received about farm advice in Scotland
indicated a stronger and better integrated approach.
Wales and Scotland have retained features of a state-organised
100. As noted above, levy bodies
are among the organisations in England involved in knowledge transfer.
Several of our witnesses suggested that the role of the levy bodies
in this regard could be enhanced.
According to the NFU, with specific reference to the AHDB, this
was not least because the industry can identify with it.
The Minister similarly saw potential in the future role of the
AHDB to assist with the provision of farming advice; he explained
that the Board was involved in an integrated advice pilot project.
The AHDB itself noted that the knowledge exchange function "is
central to what the AHDB seeks to orchestrate on behalf of its
levy payers", but it regretted the lack of public resource
available for that activity.
It differentiated itself from other sources of knowledge by its
There have been recent changes in the leadership of the AHDB which
should serve as an opportunity to strengthen the organisation's
101. The provision of farm advice in England
is fragmented and overly complex. Taking on board best practice
from elsewhere, and with the support of the Government, we recommend
that the levy boards play a central role in broadening and deepening
the range of advice currently offered to farmers in England.
102. Inspiration for a future expansion of bodies
such as the AHDB might be taken from the Danish Agricultural Advisory
Service, which is farmer-owned and user-paid. One knowledge centre
is the main supplier of professional knowledge, with advice offered
by 31 independent local advisory centres.
An alternative privately supported model is offered in the Netherlands,
where advice is provided "by privatised consultancy companies,
by agribusiness co-operatives which give their own advice to farmers
and ... by farmers' own accountants."
103. At the other end of the spectrum is a Member
State such as Poland, which has a mostly state-run system. A central
agricultural advisory system is supervised by the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development with 16 regional centres. In
addition, there are: an advisory system created by local self-governments;
systems created by private consultants and companies; an advisory
system for forestry; and a separate advisory system within the
farmers' organisation. Of 4856 advisers, only 200 are private.
Interestingly, the Commission was keen to emphasise that, while
it saw merit in the use of the private sector, it was important
not to disrupt alternative systems that might work in some Member
104. We heard from US representatives that their
land grant universities system
is a key element of agricultural knowledge transfer in the US.
Land grant status allows colleges to receive Federal funds in
return for certain activities, which include agricultural advisory
work. There is at least one land grant university in each State,
and each has an agricultural advisory agency, although priorities
will differ according to location. Some, but not all, activities
are funded from the Federal budget, and land grant universities
will work with the private sector on, for example, creating demonstrations.
The US representatives emphasised that the land grant universities
are just one part of the farm advice available: farmers "look
to where the best information is for their question", which
may be from a private seed manufacturer or "in some cases,
farmers will band together and pay for a consultant."
PAYMENT FOR KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
105. We had some discussion with our witnesses
about the financing of knowledge transfer activities. The Commission
was clear that "financing is a choice for Member States".
As noted above, funds are available under Pillar 2 of the CAP
(rural development) to support farm advice. In its report on the
FAS, the Commission observed that the measure supporting farmers'
use of farm advisory services was planned in 20 Member States
and the measure supporting the establishment of advisory services
was planned by seven Member States. The Commission explained that
it is thinking of "general flat-rate help" to farmers
to enable them to get advice but, in the long run, "advice
should have its price and farmers should see it as an investment
and pay for it"; and "if the farmer does not see added
value, he will not paybut if he does, he will".
106. Professor Godfray advocated a mixture
of private and public finance: "it should be logical for
food producers to pay for advice that increases their profit line",
but society needed to recognise that it was demanding increasingly
more from farmers and advice to "produce what are essentially
public goods" should be paid for from the public purse.
It was also emphasised to us that "some are prepared to pay
for advice and knowledge; others are not."
107. In consideration of how the CAP might further
assist the provision of advice, COPA-COGECA told us that it would
support a re-orientation of Pillar 2 towards FAS.
As we explain in Chapter 6, some re-organisation of Pillar 2 was
recommended by various witnesses in order to support innovation,
including the possibility of increasing the co-financing rate
for innovative projects.
108. We note that models and financing of farm
advice differ significantly between Member States, and that finance
is generally available from a mixture of public and private sources.
Financing is a decision for Member States. Nevertheless,
we agree that greater resources could be made available under
Pillar 2 of the CAP to support the provision of farm advice. While
its use ought to remain discretionary, it could be encouraged
by ring-fencing a certain amount of money or by offering a different
co-financing rate for such measures. We recommend that this matter
be explored in discussions on reform of the CAP.
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL KNOWLEDGE
109. The key point raised by witnesses when questioned
on successful knowledge transfer was the importance of presenting
a clear business case for adopting a new technology. The Polish
Government noted that "economics are very important because
farmers are open to innovation if it brings benefits to them."
The English Regional Development Agencies explained that new technologies
needed to be translated into a business investment.
This is particularly so, explained Philip Richardson, because
of the great deal of uncertainties (weather, disease and price
volatility) inherent in farming, which make farmers more risk-averse
than other business people.
John Deere emphasised that farmers needed to understand how a
product could work for them,
and US representatives were clear that "farmers will follow
the lead if they think they have a good chance of success."
110. We agree that the key to successful knowledge
transfer is the presentation of a clear business case. Presentation
and communication skills, in addition to a clear understanding
of the needs of farmers, thus become as important among farm advisers
as knowledge of the innovation itself.
111. Another suggestion put forward by some witnesses
was the idea that knowledge transfer should focus on the most
productive farms. The Polish Government suggested that "we
should concentrate on innovative, modern, willing-to-develop farmers".
This was a view shared by the UK Government, who noted that it
was logical to focus on the largest, most productive farms because
they were capable "of delivering the biggest economic and
environmental performance gains and of embedding new techniques
and practices". Mr Paice said that small farms should
not be ignored, but that their importance lay in local food markets
rather than in terms of boosting productivity.
112. While we understand the rationale behind
a focus on larger, productive farms, we recommend caution. There
are questions of equity to consider. Moreover, incremental innovations
such as marketing changes can just as easily be adopted by small
scale farmers at the local level to the benefit of local economies.
Nonetheless new, often costly, techniques are more likely to be
of interest to larger farmers better able to assume the necessary
113. We heard a substantial body of evidence
promoting the idea of agricultural knowledge and innovation systems
(AKIS) (see paragraph 38). Under such an approach, cooperation
takes place between basic researchers, applied researchers, the
plant breeding sector, the food processing industry, other industries
with uses for agricultural products, retailers, farmers and consumers.
The European Commission noted that such systems complement agricultural
114. The Dutch Government explained their model
of AKIS to us: with agricultural producers at its heart, it links
those producers to research, advisory services, policy support
systems and education through various mechanisms.
One of those is the "Innovation Network", which is part
of the newly formed Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture
and Innovation. Its aim is to set "radical new concepts"
in motion and to put them into practice. The importance of involving
producers from the outset was emphasised: "a key feature
of some of the successful examples ... of research going into
practice has been involvement of those end users from the start."
115. Madame Guillou explained that France was
moving towards a more systems-based approach: "we have built
this system so that farmers tell us what they have found, researchers
tell the farmers where they are, and together they choose the
questions they will work on". INRA had developed three groups
working respectively on vegetable integrated management, crops
integrated management and animal breeding integrated management.
Somewhat similarly, Incrops stated that "the most important
component of successful innovation systems are the businesses
which implement new ideas".
This was reflected by David Evans, of Morrison's. He explained
that the supermarket chain has its own farm, on which it applies,
on behalf of its producers, existing evidence and research. Morrison's
therefore assumes the risk and "if it is successful and if
we can apply it profitably and sustainably ... it is extended
to the farmers."
116. Some of our witnesses told us about systems
aiming at combining public and private interests. One such example
was the public-funded Danish Green Development and Demonstration
Programme, the objective of which is to encourage projects that
"contribute to securing a high level of environmental protection
but at the same time ensure that products are profitable and have
a sound economic business profile". It has a board of predominantly
private sector interest, but its work plan is signed off by the
Minister. Its focus is innovation in relation to the agricultural
sector and primary producers.
117. A specific example of a similar project
was provided by Dr Paul Vriesekoophen housing project
in the Netherlands, which aimed to deliver both an economic and
an animal welfare benefit (see Box 11),
which is demonstrating success. He welcomed this sort of approach
and emphasised: "I think that, for the future, to be more
innovative in total we have to understand much better how we can
integrate and work together over disciplines."
Hen housing project ("Rondeel")
|The Rondeel hen houses are round, rather than rectangular, and integrate animal welfare standards comparable to free range and organic eggs, but with the advantages of closed systems producing cage eggs and barn eggs. After an initial failed attempt to launch the project, an egg packing firm involved with the original attempt teamed up with a poultry husbandry manufacturer in order to develop a prototype, supported by the scientist who had advised on the original attempt. As the project progressed, it got key support from:
- a local municipality, to grant a permit (for a style of building not currently provided for in legislation) and to provide a location to build the system;
- the Dutch Animal Protection Society, in order to negotiate an animal welfare standard;
- local farmers, including the Southern Farmers' Organisation (ZLTO);
- the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food which, with the ZLTO, provided the financial guarantee to investors in the case of failure, which also gave encouragement to retailers which were initially sceptical of a high value, expensive product.
Interestingly, independent consultants often provided a key neutral link in discussions between partners.
118. COPA-COGECA emphasised the desirability
of a systems approach, whereby research takes more into account
what is operationally possible on a farm, in addition to getting
the research onto the farm.
With specific reference to the dairy industry, Dairy UK was critical
of the lack of a framework allowing for "the specific needs
of the sector at an EU level to be identified or for research
results to be shared across Member States."
119. The European Commission made reference to
the work of the SCAR
working group on AKIS. The Commission told us: "Linking the
world of practical knowledge and know-how of farmers and business
with research results and opportunities emerging from technological
development is a key to innovation."
In written evidence the Government updated us on the progress
of the working group, which is in the process of collecting evidence
from around the EU and is due to report in 2012.
Underlying this work is an acknowledgement that Member States
are increasingly moving towards a systems approach and away from
a linear model of knowledge transfer.
120. While the focus of our inquiry was not the
UK, we were nevertheless disturbed to hear evidence that was critical
of the performance of the Technology Strategy Board,
described as the UK's "national innovation agency",
in the area of agriculture.
The TSB funds
a sustainable agriculture and food innovation platform, which
Mr Paice explained would focus on crop productivity, livestock,
waste reduction and greenhouse gas reduction. SAC told us that
the schemes funded were "fantastic for enabling commercially
orientated research" but failed to capture schemes of joint
public and private interest; Professor Oldroyd was concerned
that it was insufficiently responsive.
The Minister commented that it was very early to judge the success
of the relevant innovation platform.
121. R&D knowledge transfer to farms is
just one part of the agricultural innovation system. As suggested
by the various theories outlined in Chapter 3, it is a complex
and interactive process involving scientists, the farming community,
food processors, retailers, government and consumers.
122. This suggests that, to be successful,
sustainable intensification of agriculture will require better
cooperation among farm businesses, advisory bodies and scientists;
greater responsiveness in European agriculture to markets; improved
interdisciplinary research among scientists and social scientists;
and farmers becoming actively involved in setting agricultural
123. Effective innovation requires systems
to be in place promoting communication between all of these actors.
We welcome the work of the EU-level working group on agricultural
knowledge and innovation systems; Member States should give its
conclusions high political priority.
CONSUMERS AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AGRICULTURAL
124. It was suggested that consumer involvement
in the innovation system is through driving demand "so the
products have to be meeting a need of the consumer and it will
be everything from price to performance to availability."
Professor Lillford explained that the retail sector had to
respond to a new type of consumer, "the alerted consumer",
who was aware of food safety, production methods, provenance and
health. This analysis
was supported for the most part by Professor Moloney and
by Which? Morrison's
confirmed that the needs of both its consumers and supply base
125. However, some witnesses felt that consumers'
concern with sustainability was limited. According to Professor Lillford,
most consumers consider that tackling issues of sustainability
is a matter for retailers themselves: "at the moment it is
too diffuse and distant a topic for people other than the passionate
to engage with."
Sue Davies, for Which?, similarly considered that, while consumers
were aware of particular issues of sustainability relating for
example to palm oil and fish stocks, there was a need for a "broader-based
debate" encompassing animal welfare and climate change.
126. We took some evidence on the extent to which
consumers and industry will need to consider dietary change, particularly
reduced meat consumption, as a contribution to sustainable intensification
Professor Godfray agreed that "we are at a very low
public awareness of some of the issues around the demand side",
citing the need to reduce meat consumption: "it is impossible
that we feed the 9.5 billion by the middle of the century if they
consume meat at the rate that we do."
Mr de Castro agreed that there may soon be a need to "reflect
on the impact of our diet. We cannot just replicate the European
diet in other countries in the world. If we go in this direction,
there is not enough land and not enough animal products."
127. A view expressed by many of our witnesses
was that communication with consumers on innovative developments
was crucial, though often fraught with difficulties.
Professor Moloney lamented that "it has been very difficult
to demystify the science associated with agricultural production."
He said that there was a need to reduce the level of suspicion
and apprehension about technology when applied to agriculture
and food. The
FSA described consumers as "wary, uneasy and uncertain"
about new technologies in relation to food.
Dairy UK observed that "consumers are naturally cautious
about innovations that challenge their perception of dairy farming
and dairy products".
128. Which? relayed the results of their research
which demonstrated that innovation was not "a dirty word"
for consumers as regards food, but that there were concerns about
safety risks and related social and ethical issues. Ms Davies
concluded that "it comes down to what level of reassurance
people have that the issues have been thought through and that
we know what the long-term implications are, and that we have
effective independent oversight in order to deal with those".
She argued that the mistake made as regards some technologies
was that consumers were insufficiently involved from an early
stage of development of the technology.
129. We received divergent views, however, on
who should be responsible for such communication. With particular
reference to genetically modified crops, Mr de Castro considered
that the European Commission should outline the benefits to be
derived from them, which he listed as offering savings in land,
chemicals, pesticides and water.
Dairy UK concurred that the EU had a role in communication with
the consumer, calling on the EU to help explain innovations in
dairy technology and management methods.
130. Many of our UK witnesses considered that
the UK Government should take the lead in communicating scientific
innovations as regards food.
Professor Moloney was clear that the only way to offer clarity
to consumers "is through national leadership" and Dr Bushell
suggested that politicians have "an amazing opportunity to
shed light on the real risks associated with food and not the
131. Mr Paice took a contrary view, suggesting
that Government are the worst source to offer such advice. He
insisted that consumers trust retailers, and added that the scientific
and farming communities have roles to play.
Professor Godfray took the view that Government had done
all that it could.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) confirmed that consumers lack
trust in Government but that they have trust in family, friends,
consumer groups, retailers and organisations such as the FSA.
As a major retailer, Morrison's were less inclined to lead the
consumer and insisted simply that they should deliver what the
customer wants and is prepared to buy.
132. The failure of academia to engage with consumers
and the broader public was acknowledged. Some felt that the scientific
community should play a stronger role. Professor Oldham concluded
that the willingness of the scientific population to engage was
key, "as is training people to do it well."
Professor Godfray agreed that the scientific community needed
to step up and considered that scientists had tended to argue
on narrow environmental and health grounds, ignoring the bigger
133. A number of witnesses suggested that regular
seminars and events on different sectors and areas of work can
Professor Kell suggested that engagement is best done locally;
he explained that the BBSRC runs a lot of public exhibitions,
and also spends £900,000 per year on Science in Society.
Professor Lillford said that, through debate and explanation,
it is possible to educate consumers. Professor Godfray observed
that, on a range of issues, some of the most trusted commentators
are, in fact, non-governmental organisations. They would therefore
in theory, he argued, be in a good position to embrace GM technology
as a way of contributing to development in the most impoverished
countries around the world, although many have not yet chosen
to do so.
134. Professor Oldham suggested that one
of the most powerful ways of engaging with the public is through
the media. In the last few years, he considered, television and
radio presentation of agricultural developments has "become
much more balanced and sympathetic to the industry interests."
Professor Godfray agreed that some parts of the media are
"excellent" but criticised others. Morrison's were similarly
critical of at least some of the media, but nonetheless considered
it to be an important source of influence over consumer behaviour.
We heard that the independent Science Media Centre had improved
the media's communication of scientific discoveries.
135. Consumers are a fundamentally important
part of the innovation system, but their role has, we consider,
been neglected. At the end of the food chain, consumer preferences
determine what is on the shelf, but we are far from convinced
that consumer preferences are formed on the basis of sufficient
information about the sustainability of products. Communication,
both about new agricultural technologies and about the issues
surrounding the sustainable intensification of agriculture, goes
to the heart of the challenge; it involves listening to consumers
as well as directing information at them. It includes tackling
the impact of dietary habits on the sustainability of food systems.
136. Trust is a key concern, and it is appropriate
to recognise that consumers may lack trust in messages from Government
or business. That being said, it cannot be right for national
and regional authorities to step away from the process of communication
on the grounds that consumers will have no confidence in any messages
which they, as public authorities, put across. Retailers and food
processors must also accept responsibility for properly informed
communication with consumers about innovative and sustainable
agricultural products and practices, and about the wider implications
of their dietary choices.
137. We consider that the European Commission
should help to share best practice in communication with consumers.
National and regional authorities should offer financial and organisational
help to allow for public participation in discussions about innovation
in agricultural and food systems. Getting the message across is
a task in which scientists, industry, retailers, media and civil
society should play a full role.
106 Q 285 Back
Op. cit., para 138 Back
Articles 12-13 of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 Back
Q 392, IEUA 15, 26 Back
QQ 199, 514 Back
Q 392 Back
IEUA 2, para 9 Back
IEUA 21 Back
IEUA 14 Back
Q 484 Back
Q 541 Back
QQ 84, 94 Back
QQ 484, 544, 583 Back
Q 559 Back
QQ 724, 725 Back
IEUA 14, Q 681-for example, the joint Natural England and Environment
Agency "England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative"
Membership organisations funded by compulsory levies on farmers. Back
QQ 636, 700, IEUA 15, 36 Back
Q 456 Back
IEUA 14 Back
Q 393 Back
QQ 145, 392 IEUA 19 Back
Q 559 Back
QQ 597, 685 Back
IEUA 14 Back
Q 636 Back
IEUA 12 Back
Q 635 Back
Q 199 Back
Q 586 Back
See paragraph 52 for the Dutch response to a smaller-scale crisis
in the 1990s, when German consumers stopped buying Dutch tomatoes.
COM(2010) 665 Back
Q 199 Back
Q 515 Back
Q 531 Back
Until 2009, MS were required to give priority to farmers in receipt
of over 15,000 of direct payments p.a. Back
QQ 609, 615 Back
Q 684 Back
QQ 242-5, 260 Back
Q 681 Back
IEUA 16, para 5 Back
QQ 288, 290, 297, 724 Back
Q 339 Back
They include the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development
Board), BBRO (British Beet Research Organisation), PGRO (Processors
and Growers Research Organisation) and DairyCo (Dairy levy board) Back
IEUA 6, 8, 14, 18, Q 178 Back
Q 161, IEUA 14 Back
QQ 681-2 Back
IEUA 2, para 12 Back
Q 70 Back
IEUA 40 Back
Q 582 Back
QQ 541, 543 Back
Q 531 Back
Established by the Morrill Act in 1862, and developed through
subsequent legislation. Back
Q 182 Back
QQ 516, 532 Back
Q 650 Back
Q 70 Back
Q 616 Back
Q 559 Back
IEUA 15 Back
IEUA 16, para 2 Back
Q 726 Back
Q 182 Back
Q 560 Back
IEUA 25, 2 (2), Q 676 Back
IEUA 39 Back
Q 582 Back
Q 641 Back
Q 426 Back
IEUA 21 Back
Q 456 Back
QQ 477, 487 Back
Q 641 Back
Q 633 Back
"Adaptive management in agricultural innovation systems:
The interactions between innovation networks and their environment",
Agricultural Systems 103 (2010) 390-400, Klerckx, L. et al Back
Q 613 Back
IEUA 8 Back
Scientific Committee on Agricultural Research Back
Q 579, IEUA 39 Back
IEUA 41 Back
The Technology Strategy Board is a Non-Departmental Public Body
established in 2007 to stimulate technology-enabled innovation. Back
QQ 95-6, 632 Back
Over 5 years: £50m from the TSB, £30m from Defra and
£10m from the BBSRC Back
Q 96 Back
Q 689 Back
Q 5 Back
Q 438 Back
QQ 114, 468 Back
Q 456 Back
Q 444 Back
Q 473 Back
Another important issue in relation to dietary change, which may
have implications for food production, is that of obesity. Our
inquiry did not focus on that issue, but tackling obesity has
been considered as a case study in the inquiry into behaviour
change which has been carried out by the Science and Technology
Committee of this House. The report of that inquiry is expected
to be published in late July 2011. Back
Q 657 Back
Q 214 Back
Q 187 Back
Q 114 Back
Q 119 Back
Q 463 Back
IEUA 8 Back
Q 467 Back
QQ 211-2 Back
IEUA 8 Back
QQ 83, 204, 473 Back
QQ 133, 372 Back
Q 693 Back
Q 649 Back
Q 463 Back
Q 470 Back
Q 635 Back
Q 649 Back
Q 6 Back
Q 429 Back
Q 649 Back
Q 635 Back
QQ 471-2 Back
Q 83 Back