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BBSRC view on final AEBC report on agricultural biotechnology

16 December 2005

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has today published its response to the report ‘What sets the research agenda’ published by the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Committee (AEBC).

The report raises issues beyond the agricultural research agenda, many of which are highly relevant to BBSRC. It calls for funders to ensure that none of the wide range of drivers behind agricultural biotechnology becomes dominant. With 70 per cent of BBSRC funding for science committed through responsive mode and initiative funding the Research Council considers that the drivers for research within its remit in the future will continue to be ‘bottom-up’. Excellent science proposed by the research community will influence the direction of future research.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, commented on the report, saying, “The AEBC report raised a number of important issues including the increasing importance of effective public dialogue. This is an area where BBSRC is now very active with recent public engagement exercises on public attitudes towards diet and health and farm animal genomics research. We are also involved in ongoing work with other Research Councils on energy and ageing research.”


Notes to editors

The full BBSRC response to the report is available from 1900GMT 16 December 2005

The Government has also published its response to the report this week.

The AEBC report, ‘What shapes the research agenda? In agricultural biotechnology’, was launched to systematically look at the drivers behind research in agricultural biotechnology,  the mechanisms in place for setting priorities, and the implications of these findings for the research that is done.

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) provided the UK Government and Devolved Administrations with independent strategic advice on developments in biotechnology and their implications for agriculture and the environment. It looked at the broad picture, taking ethical and social issues into account as well as the science. Set up in June 2000, the AEBC formed part of the strategic framework on biotechnology, alongside the Human Genetics Commission and the Food Standards Agency.

AEBC's secretariat was based within OST. On 27 May 2004 the Government announced a routine review of the AEBC and on 2 December 2004 the Independent reviewer's report was published. Government published its response on 5 April 2005, and as a result, at the end of April 2005, the AEBC was wound up on the basis that after completing its current work, it would have largely discharged its original remit. The last report that the AEBC published in April 2005 was entitled ‘What shapes the research agenda? In agricultural biotechnology’.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382