Rothamsted Research, established in 1843, has been delivering knowledge and innovation that benefit agriculture globally. The international impact of Rothamsted Research is the result of the cumulative efforts of an international community of scientists and institute employees. Almost a quarter of staff members, visiting workers and PhD students currently come from European Union countries. In the last 5 years Rothamsted scientists have received nearly £5M funding support from the European Union, for projects that there is no equivalent support in terms of the scale, scope and research theme from national funding schemes.
Explaining how science is conducted in a modern research institute like Rothamsted Research, Professor Dobermann said: “The sustainability, food security and nutrition challenges we are facing are global. Providing solutions for those challenges requires coordinated international efforts. Science can only thrive through collaborative endeavours that enable sharing of know-how, data and resources. Researchers need wide access to international science collaboration mechanisms, infrastructure and resources as well as funding and there must be easy movement of people across countries.”
The Minister of State for Universities and Science clearly stated last week that there are no immediate changes affecting the UK’s eligibility for EU funding or affecting the circumstances of European citizens resident in the UK. Consequently, we are continuing to operate as we have normally done, including applying for EU projects and welcoming EU members of staff and students at Rothamsted Research.
Moving forward, in the context of research, it is essential for organisations like Rothamsted that the period of uncertainty that is being generated as a result of the referendum outcome is kept to the minimum necessary and a concrete plan of action is arrived at quickly. This must ensure that the ability of researchers to move freely between European union countries is not compromised. Similarly, access by UK researchers to EU wide infrastructure, data and resources essential to conduct excellent agricultural science should be maintained and guaranteed.
In the context of agriculture and rural agri-environment policy, it is also essential that future domestic policies are being developed ensuring the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of the British farming sector. The competitive advantage for the British farming sector depends and will continue to depend on science and innovation, which should be at the heart of future relevant domestic policies.
Rothamsted Research works with all relevant partners and stakeholders to discuss the options for the best way forward for science and agriculture for the UK and internationally.