Euro MP meets with Harpenden business leaders

Vicky Ford MEP with Dr Jonathan Storkey and Prof Achim Dobermann (Director of Rothamsted).

Vicky Ford MEP with Dr Jonathan Storkey and Prof Achim Dobermann (Director of Rothamsted). - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s world leading plant scientists have spelled out the case for science in Europe to a top MEP.

Vicky Ford at Harpenden Business Breakfast Club

Vicky Ford at Harpenden Business Breakfast Club - Credit: Archant

Leading Conservative MEP Vicky Ford toured Rothamsted, the world’s oldest agricultural research centre, during a recent visit to the town.

With more than 200 scientists working at the cutting edge of crop science and biotechnology, Rothamsted has benefited from EU grants and has led many international research projects which help to ensure its status as a global centre for science.

Vicky Ford was the UK lead negotiator on Europe’s £70 billion fund for research, known as the Horizon 2020 program. During the five year negotiations she worked with Rothamsted and other expert organisations across Britain to prioritise areas like plant science, medical research and next generation transport: all areas where the UK excels.

“Science and research is key to driving innovation and economic growth and jobs, as well as to solving some of our biggest problems such as how to grow new crops that can adapt to developing disease and drought. It is vital that our scientists in Britain can work easily with others all across the world and that we do not walk away from European neighbours in this referendum”, said Mrs Ford.

Professor Achim Dobermann, director and chief executive of Rothamsted Research said: “The sustainability, food security and nutrition challenges we are facing are global. Providing solutions for those challenges requires coordinated international efforts. Science can only thrive through collaborative endeavours that enable sharing if know-how, data and resources.

“Researchers need wide access to international science collaboration mechanisms as well as funding and there must be easy movement of people across countries. Remaining in the EU and working towards even more efficient ways of collaboration will greatly benefit science and innovation and thus also agricultural businesses and consumers in the UK”.

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Prior to her visit to the research centre, Mrs Ford addressed Harpenden Business Breakfast Club, which meets at Rothamsted Conference Centre and is made up of representatives from more than 40 local businesses ranging from banking and engineering to commerce, sales and marketing.

She discussed the importance of trading with customers across the European single market to the economy of Hertfordshire and the east of England, and emphasised how 45 per cent of British exports go to Europe, and over three million British jobs are directly linked to trade the Single Market, including 300,000 in the east of England alone.

She told the meeting: “The world is a much more dangerous place than five years ago especially when you look at what is happening in Ukraine, Turkey and Syria. It is important to note that the only major national leader who is not saying Britain should stay in the EU is Putin.”