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Harper Forum report - Tina Barsby of NIAB TAG

Posted 16 May 2011

By Harper Forum Reporter, Charlotte Harley.

The final Harper Forum of the year welcomed Tina Barsby, Director of NIAB TAG, to discuss current operations and GM advancement.

Ms Barsby began by explaining what NIAB TAG means – putting science into practice through delivering innovation to industry. Current issues include feeding the world’s increasing population - a need to boost agricultural activity while conserving resources and coping with climate change.

To achieve this, the industry needs to improve knowledge exchange between research and the field.

Previously, NIAB had achieved this by improving varieties of arable crops and through the establishment of the 'recommended lists'. This provides direction for farmers to maximise their yield potential depending on their location.

The joining of TAG in 2009 extended this to cover all aspects of the chain from research to market sales.

Ms Barsby said that today, knowledge exchange is done through the Innovation Farm, which showcases varieties available and brings together policy makers, researchers, agri-food businesses and growers. The focus is on food, climate change, sustainability and healthy living.

While discussing GM (Genetic Modification), Ms Barsby said that it has become apparent that the industry needs to find ways to improve wheat yields to feed the growing population and that this could be met with the help of GM.

Fears of public health are less of an issue, but the privitisation of research is becoming predominant. NIAB TAG are hoping for an independent group with government funding to open the access to the technology.

This was the last forum of the year, so the committee of 2010-11 would like to thank our speakers and our audiences.

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