Crop Science Centre
In April 2020, the World Food Programme issued a stark warning: the world was sleepwalking towards a biblical famine.
The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the gaping inequalities embedded in the world’s food supply systems — putting an additional 120 million people at risk of starvation. Arguably more shocking is that 135 million people were already suffering from crisis-level food shortages and hunger, and a further 821 million people were grappling with food insecurity, in a world with supply systems functioning as normal.
The current trajectory for crop yields is insufficient to nourish the world’s population by 2050. It is clear that something is deeply wrong.
The Crop Science Centre
Sustainably securing the world's food supply
To address these urgent issues the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with NIAB, have established the Crop Science Centre. Launched in October 2020, under the direction of Professor Giles Oldroyd FRS, Russell R. Geiger Professor of Crop Science, the Crop Science Centre is designed to help drive fundamental agricultural transformation that will positively impact food security, provide opportunities to mitigate climate change and improve people’s livelihoods.
The new Centre bridges the gap between basic and applied crop science. Focused around three key pillars of research activity: Crop Nutrition, Pests and Diseases, and Improving Photosynthesis, world-leading researchers at the Centre work to unearth the molecular and physiological basis to plant growth and grain quality.
These fundamental plant science discoveries will not only contribute to innovative crop pre-breeding activities but will be translated into sustainable agricultural solutions for higher yields and improved nutrition. Vitally, a new generation of crop science experts will be trained here at the Centre — to ensure that we can continue to feed future global populations and that we do so sustainably.
Professor Giles E. D. Oldroyd FRS
Crop Science Centre Director and Russell R Geiger Professor of Crop Science
Giles Oldroyd studies interactions between plants and beneficial micro-organisms, both bacteria and fungi, which aid in the uptake of nutrients from the environment — especially nitrogen and phosphorus. His research aims to understand the signalling and developmental processes in plants that allows interactions with mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria — essential information needed for developing nitrogen-fixing cereals. This work has the potential to deliver more sustainable and secure food production systems, with particular potential to deliver significant yield improvements to the poorest farmers in the world.
Giles has been honoured with the Society of Experimental Biology President’s Medal, a Royal Society Wolfson Research merit award, the EMBO Young Investigator award, and now leads an international programme focused on engineering nitrogen-fixing cereals funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Support the future of global food security
The single most fundamental challenge to the survival of the human species is food security: the ability to grow food, and minimise impact on the environment, consistently. The launch of this Centre provides a hugely exciting opportunity for visionary philanthropists to partner with us and support our work, achieving an enormous impact on global food security, and in the process supporting the lives of millions of people around the world.
You can support the Crop Science Centre by donating online or to learn more about how you can help transform the future of global food security, please do not hesitate to contact Linda Hindmarsh.