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Rural Affairs Minister Meets Researchers at Royal Show - Funds A Project

Originally Published 01 July 2002

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Margaret Beckett has an unusual engagement at the Royal Show in Warwickshire on 1st July. Despite it being a showcase for farming and the countryside she will be taking time to meet with manufacturing researchers at the University of Warwick.

Why? Because they have a £30 million, 30,000 hectare idea that could transform the fortunes of both British Farming, UK Manufacturing and help the UK Government meet its International Environmental commitments.

Dr Malcolm Harold from the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group has put together a team of University of Warwick Biologists, chemists, and manufacturing researchers into a new University unit called Warwick Advanced Sustainable Technologies.

This new unit is working in partnership with the Royal Show's organisers - The Royal Agricultural Society of England to campaign for the implementation of a bold new initiative called From the 'Field to the Front Room' to mount the first UK wide grand scale field trials of crops grown specifically to make chemical feed stocks that will replace the crude oil used to make a wide range of plastics and composites.

The research team proposes that instead of tinkering with small scale projects in this area the time has come for government to move to large scale field trials of a range of non food crops such as Linseed, Oil Seed Rape, Hemp and Euphorbia, to get a real understanding of the benefits of using these crops to produce many manufactured products. The £30 million, 30,000 hectare project would cover the whole life time of the crops and the products that could be made from them - including how such products could be simply composted at the end of their life. Should the government support such a bold idea the benefits would be

  • The development of a vital new activity for the farming industry - allowing farmers to diversify their business but to diversify into a business they still understand - growing things

  • The development of a new range of environmentally friendly materials and products that could give UK manufacturers a new edge

  • The new crops would sequester even more carbon allowing the UK to meet its Kyoto targets for reducing carbon emissions faster and could even lead to Framers themselves trading carbon credits

Photo Opportunity: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Margaret Beckett will be at the research team's stand in the Non food crops Marquee at the Royal Show at 2.45 on Monday 1st July. Photographers and other press are welcome.

For further details please contact:

Dr Malcolm Harold University of Warwick

Mobile: 0775 3850835