- Official launch of The Food and Environment Research Agency
Official launch of The Food and Environment Research Agency
Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, officially launched The Food and Environment Research Agency on Monday 15 June, by addressing an audience of 230 invited delegates at the state-of-the-art laboratory facility in Sand Hutton. The Minister spoke of how Fera will strengthen Defra’s ground-breaking food, farming and environmental research programme by bringing together Defra’s Central Science Laboratory, Plant Health Division, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate and the Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division and UK Government Decontamination Service into one agency.
In particular, the creation of Fera will significantly strengthen Defra’s work in plant and crop protection, food chain safety, environmental risk assessment and crisis response, and promote better integration between policy development, scientific evidence and inspection services. The merger will also enable a more rapid response to protect the public interest, and remove delays for businesses involved in both national and international trade.
Having been on a tour of the site prior to his speech, the Secretary of State praised the work of Fera in helping to deal with the questions of renewable energy, climate change, bee health and sudden oak death, among others.
Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bob Watson, delivered a keynote address on the crucial role good scientific evidence plays in tackling the important scientific issues alluded to by the Secretary of State.
This was followed in the afternoon by a series of presentations by Fera scientists that explored the breadth and depth of Fera’s science, focusing on its work in areas such as changing land use, food safety and nanotechnology, control of wildlife diseases, protecting honeybees and the science behind understanding risk and uncertainty in decision making.
Earlier in the day, Hilary Benn had switched on Fera’s new combined heat and power plant that will reduce the site’s CO2 emissions by over 500 tonnes per year and also planted a tree to encourage diversity of wildlife as part of the Sand Hutton site’s sustainability plan.
17th June 2009