A report published recently on the BBSRC website has found that the Rural Economy and Land Use (Relu) programme has successfully generated a significant number of impacts and helped to change policies and practices concerning rural economy and land use.
Relu is a £26.5M research programme, running between 2004 and 2013, which aims to inform policy and practice on how to manage the countryside and rural economies. The University of Warwick had a major role in the programme and projects include biopesticides, the governance of livestock disease and assessing the potential rural impact of plant disease.
The research project on biopesticides was a collaboration between Dr Dave Chandler from the School Life Sciences and Professor Wyn Grant from Politics and International Studies. The project team investigated the environmental and regulatory sustainability of biopesticides as alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides for crop protection.
Biopesticides can play an important role in crop protection as part of Integrated Pest Management, but at the time the Relu project started the systems used to authorise biopesticide products were not fit for purpose and acted as a barrier to their commercialisation. Through their research, the Warwick team made recommendations for new regulatory systems and worked closely with government bodies, the biopesticides industry, growers and retailers. The research has been widely recognised as being of practical importance to the agricultural economy and the crop protection industry. For example, in 2008 Dr Chandler and Professor Grant, along with Dr Rosemary Collier from the Warwick Crop Centre, were invited by the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs to advise them on the future of crop protection policy in Europe.
The Governance of Livestock Disease project, led by Professor Graham Medley from Life Sciences, has been investigating the interaction between epidemiology, politics, economics and law in determining the patterns of common livestock diseases. The project has contributed a number of academic publications, consultations to government and other reports. Full details can be found on the Governance of Livestock Disease website.
Plant diseases pose a serious threat to food security, biodiversity and the rural environment. An appraisal of the potential impacts of plant diseases on land use and the UK rural economy was carried out by staff at the University of Warwick, Imperial College, Coventry University and the Central Science laboratory. Recommendations to policy makers include improving stakeholder engagement to enhance the management of plant diseases and precautionary rather than reactive regulatory action.
View the BBSRC report, 30 July 2012