Dominic Raab visits Tozer, independent veggy seed company

27-07-2022    13:52   |    HortiBiz

Tozer were pleased to host Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Sam Brooke the CEO of BSPB (British Society of Plant Breeders), last week.

Tozer, are an international company which supply growers and farmers with vegetable seeds in the UK and around the world.

 

Steven Winterbottom, MD of Tozer said, “during the meeting we discussed the Precision Breeding Bill which we hope will unlock the potential of new breeding technologies. We also discussed the effects of unprecedented cost increases and the labour shortages on the wider industry”.

 

Plant breeding, to improve the genetic characteristics of crops, contributes to sustainability and food security. With the pressures of climates change, reduction in available chemicals to growers and labour shortages, it is vital to produce varieties which are drought tolerant, resistant to disease and able to be machine harvested. 

 

Dr Jamie Claxton, Director of R&D, said “Plant breeding is the heart and soul of the company. Tozer continues to innovate and is collaborating strongly with Vertical Farming companies. We aim to improve varieties, through plant breeding, specifically for this environment. There are huge sustainability advantages in the use of vertical farming: carbon neutrality, optimised conditions producing faster harvest and reduction in ‘food miles’. 

 

Since producing new varieties takes many years, Tozer are investing in speed breeding infrastructure to facilitate faster breeding with a reduction of inputs. Tozer are encouraged to see that the proposed amendments made to the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill will assist in their breeding aims.

 

Tozer were able to draw to the attention of Mr Raab the stark disparities in government funding research projects in the agricultural sector. The Farming Innovation Programme 2022-2029 with a focus on improving farm-level productivity, sustainability and resilience has a fund of £270 million while the annual government investment in Genetic Improvement Network for vegetables is just £270,000. 

 

Dr Frances Gawthrop, Director of Tozer, said “the difficulties of Plant Breeding Research Projects are the relative short time scales, there is no mention of any long-term vision for targeted R&D investment and no commitment to a strategic crop genetic improvement. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to raise this with Mr Raab as this type of research is essential in the world today”.


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