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SCAR - National Research Systems - United Kingdom

In the public sector, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is responsible for the overall direction of UK research and innovation policy. The UK Research Councils operate at arm’s length from government and fund research, infrastructure capacity, training and knowledge transfer processes to maintain UK global competitiveness in science and innovation. Government ministries and departments also fund research in support of their policy responsibilities.

Key Links

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has primary responsibility for food and agriculture policy in the UK in conjunction with the devolved Administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who have responsibility for their regions. The Scottish Government and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI) maintain their own agriculture research budgets, while that for Wales is handled jointly through Defra.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent food safety watchdog set up by an Act of Parliament to protect the public’s health and consumer interests in relation to food. Although the FSA is a Government agency, it works at arm’s length from Government because it does not report to a specific Minister and is free to publish any advice it issues.

The Research Councils of interest to agricultural science are:
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The following links take you directly to specific parts of the above-mentioned websites:
  • The Welsh Assembly Government works to develop agriculture and to secure a better future for farmers and food producers in Wales.
  • The Scottish Government, through the Scottish Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate (RERAD), funds strategic research on sustainable and profitable agriculture for plants, animals, land management and impacts on human health.
  • In Northern Ireland, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute maintains an integrated science and technology programme to underpin the overall aims of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development - to improve the economic performance of the agri-food, fishing and forestry sectors; to protect the public, animals and property; to conserve and enhance the rural environment and to strengthen the economy and social infrastructure.
  • BBSRC is the leading funding organisation of agricultural research in the UK, funding basic and applied studies on plants, microbes and animals and on the tools and technology underpinning biological science.  Collaborative research with industry is funded in particular through LINK programmes and Research and Technology Clubs

The British Council’s “Guide to the Organisation of Science, Engineering and Technology in the UK” provides a simplified overview of research funding in the UK.
In addition to the above-mention government departments and research councils, funding for and promotion of agricultural research is provided by several specific bodies including:
  • Divisions of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), a Non Departmental Public Body of Defra, which is funded through statutory levies from particular industry sectors including horticulture, meat and livestock, milk, potatoes, cereals and oilseeds.
  • Environment Agency - a Non Departmental Public Body delivering the environmental priorities of Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government.
  • Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) – an executive agency of Defra that protects public health, animal health and the environment, and promotes animal welfare by assuring the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines in the UK.
  • Chemicals Regulation Directorate – a Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which ensures the safe use of biocides, industrial chemicals, pesticides and detergents to protect the health of people and the environment.
  • Technology Strategy Board (TSB) – the UK’s national innovation agency, assisting businesses to develop new products and services based on technology. It also assists in knowledge transfer for the benefit of the UK economy through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs). Agriculture is a key area for support, in particular through the Biosciences KTN. The TSB Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform (supported by Defra and BBSRC) addresses agricultural productivity (crops and livestock), food processing and waste (from farm-to-fork); and includes technology development, product introduction and good practice.

Research performers

Research is commissioned by Government departments, industry and academia and is performed by a wide range of organisations including universities, research institutes, industrial laboratories etc.. The following sites link to selected agricultural research performers:
  • In addition to Defra’s own research, there are a number of other organisations which conduct agricultural research relevant to Defra’s interests:
    • Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) incorporating the former Central Science Laboratory, Fera specialises in the sciences underpinning agriculture for sustainable crop production, environmental management and conservation, and in food safety and quality.
    • Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) works to safeguard animal health in Great Britain, and provides a specialist veterinary resource for veterinary public health and assistance in developing sustainable agriculture and food industries.
    • The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • The Forestry Commission is the Government Department responsible for forestry policy throughout Great Britain. Its Forest Research Agency engages in forestry and tree-related research.
  • In Northern Ireland, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) – a Non-Departmental Public Body created in 2006 as an amalgamation of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Science Service and the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland.
  • UK Universities:
    • This link lists all UK universities and includes links to their websites.
    • This link lists agricultural colleges in the UK.
    • Warwick School of Life Sciences provides academic excellence in plant and microbial sciences and its application to horticulture, crops and the environment.

Other links - read more
The following website provide information on a wide range of relevant topics:
  • Intute is a free catalogue of hand-selected and evaluated internet resources in agriculture, food and forestry. New resources are added weekly.
National Research Systems
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  SCAR meetings.

The SCAR plenary meetings are normally organised twice a year. Thirteen meetings have been held so far since February 2005.

The next meeting is scheduled on: [read more]
  Contact info.

The SCAR committee is supported by a Secretariat with staff from the Commission's Directorate-General for Research and staff made available to SCAR from Member States (‘virtual secretariat’). The Secretariat is in charge of the preparation and follow-up of forum meetings (e.g. coordination of the agenda, invitation, documents for the meeting, minutes) and provides assistance to the working groups.
Contact person: François Constantin.