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Advisory Group

Science for



Matt Ridley – Landowner and science writer

Matt Ridley is the author of numerous books on science. He has been a journalist and a businessman and served for nine years on the House of Lords. He lives on a farm in Northumberland.  


Lord Rooker – Politician

Lord (Jeff) Rooker is a British politician who served as the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr from 1974 until 2001, joining the government in 1997 as Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. He was appointed to the House of Lords in 2001 where he continued to serve in the government under several ministerial portfolios until 2008, including as Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State for Sustainable Food, Farming and Animal Health from 2005 to 2008. He was chair of the Food Standards Agency from 2009 to 2013.  

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Professor Helen Sang OBE, FRSE, FRSB – Livestock scientist

Professor Helen Sang OBE, FRSE, FRSB has led a research programme at The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh) on the development and applications of genetic modification technologies in the chicken. This research has included applications in basic biological research, in biotechnology and in the potential of developing genetically disease resistant chickens, with funding from Government, mainly UKRI-BBSRC and industry.  This has led to her engagement in both discussions with policy makers and with the general public, to engage in dialogue about the perceived issues and potential benefits of applications of genetic technologies in farmed animals. 


Professor Tina Barsby OBE – Plant scientist

Tina is a plant geneticist and a former CEO of NIAB. She has a first degree in agricultural botany from the University of Wales at Bangor, and a PhD from the University of Nottingham. She spent a postdoctoral period at Kansas State University, and worked at Allelix Inc, Ontario, Canada for several years before returning to the UK. Tina joined Nickerson UK (now part of the LG Group) where she remained until joining NIAB in 2006. She became NIAB Director and CEO in 2008, retiring in 2021. She was instrumental in the initiation and implementation of innovative approaches in plant breeding including the first public-good programme for wheat breeding in the UK since the closure of the Plant Breeding Institute in 1987. She was awarded an Honorary Professorship in Agricultural Botany by the University of Cambridge in 2021.  

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Julian Sturdy MP – Arable farmer and politician

Julian Sturdy has been MP for York Outer since 2010. He has served on the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee since 2017, and has chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture since 2016. He has also worked on animal welfare issues, taking the Control of Horses Act 2015 through Parliament to curb the problem of fly-grazing. Julian grew up in Yorkshire and has farmed in the area all his working life, having studied agriculture at Harper Adams University.    

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Paul Temple – Mixed Farmer

Paul Temple manages a mixed arable and livestock farm on the East Yorkshire Wolds, producing cereals for seed, oilseed rape, vegetables and beef. The farm has taken part in the GM Crop Field Scale Evaluation trials and is part of the highest tier of environmental stewardship schemes. Paul is a past vice-president of the National Farmers Union, former chairman of the Copa Cogeca Cereals, Oilseeds and Protein Group, and founder of the European Biotech Forum. He previously sat on the National Non-Food Crops Board, and has chaired the AHDB’s cereals and oilseeds sector and the Voluntary Initiative — an industry-led programme which promotes responsible use of pesticides. He is also a board member of the Global Farmer Network, which brings together strong farming leaders from around the world to amplify the farmers’ voice in promoting trade, technology, sustainable farming, economic growth, and food security.


Dr Craig Lewis – Livestock breeder

Raised on a family farm in Herefordshire and with advanced degrees in Animal Behaviour/Welfare and Animal Breeding/Genetics. Graduating with a PhD from The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh and after undertaking a research position in Australia, Craig is currently overseeing Genetic Dissemination for Genus PIC in the Europe region working with pig producers from developing farmers in Africa to multinational integrated food businesses. He is also the current chair of the steering committee for the European Forum for Farm Animal Breeders (EFFAB). Craig has multiple published research articles and has spoken globally on practical animal breeding. He is a strong advocate of science-based decision making along the food chain, with a focus on the use of new tools and methods being effectively taken from research to implementation to tackle changing societal demands and deliver ethical, nutritious, sustainable, and enjoyable animal protein.      

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Professor Johnathan Napier – Plant scientist

Johnathan is a leading pioneer in plant biotechnology and an advocate for the power of GM plants to deliver for the public good. At Rothamsted Research, Professor Johnathan Napier’s flagship research programme involves both GM and gene editing techniques to develop oilseed crops with enhanced Omega-3 levels as a more sustainable, plant-based source of healthy oils for human nutrition and for the aquaculture sector.”    He has made the key discoveries in understanding the biosynthesis of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka omega-3 fish oils) and has applied this knowledge in transgenic and gene edited plants to provide a sustainable terrestrial source of fish oils, and representing the most sophisticated plant metabolic engineering to date to undergo environmental release. Johnathan is a passionate advocate for both the science and the impact (more sustainable aquaculture, better human nutrition) of his GM omega-3 project, and engaged in many public and media activities.      

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Alex Waugh – Primary food processing

Alex Waugh recently retired as Director General of UK Flour Millers, the trade association representing the UK flour milling industry. He has also been involved in a number of other representative organisations including the UK Rice Association and European Flour Millers as well as playing a leading role in a number of sectoral committees and organisations advising government and industry.      

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Dr Alastair Leake – Agronomist and conservation scientist

Alastair Leake has a Degree in Horticultural Science and a PhD in Sustainable Agriculture. He is the Director of Policy (England) for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, and manages the ground-breaking Allerton Project R & D Farm in Leicestershire where the team have proven that by using science to foster both, intensive agriculture and high levels of biodiversity can co-exist.  


Karen Holt – Regulatory consultant

As a biochemist and molecular biologist, Karen has a long history in the development and regulatory approval of genetically modified crops.  With over 20 years’ experience of biotechnology regulation, she has led many Global projects helping to shape regulatory frameworks as well as being active in OECD and on the Convention on Biological Diversity.  She currently is a consultant in biotechnology regulatory affairs (Holt Regulatory Solutions Ltd) and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

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Nigel Moore – Plant breeding

Nigel is a plant scientist with formal education in plant physiology, genetics, and agronomy.  He has worked in private sector plant breeding research and seeds for over 35 years mostly in Northwest Europe in large scale field crops.  Nigel is employed by the seed company KWS SAAT SE &Co. KGaA as their global head of business development and strategy for cereals crops.  His experience of the whole chain of agricultural production and expertise in seed variety development and commercialization has enabled him to take seed sector representative positions interacting with governments in relation to seeds policymaking and regulation in the UK as past chairman of BSPB and towards the EU Commission as past president of Euroseeds.  Nigel is an active board member of Euroseeds engaged with the European Commission handling topical policy and regulatory subjects including sustainable agriculture, seeds marketing regulation and new breeding techniques.  The pivotal role of plant breeding and genetics in accelerating the scalable improvement in the sustainability of agriculture and food security is central to both his entrepreneurial work within KWS and his government outreach activities.  

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David Hill – Arable farmer

David Hill farms in central Norfolk growing early generation cereal seed, grass seed, oilseed rape, sugar beet and spelt wheat. The farm also operates three processing plants, adding value to its own and other farmers’ crops. David is a Nuffield Scholar and a member of the Global Farmers Network. A keen advocate of new technology in agriculture, he was one of the first farmers to host UK trials of GM sugar beet as part of the Government’s GM crop Field Scale Evaluation trials in the late 1990s.    


Dr Julian Little – Science communicator

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Julian has worked in plant science and food production for over thirty years. He holds a first degree in biochemistry and a PhD in molecular plant pathology. After a successful career in a number of crop protection and seed companies, he now helps a range of individuals and organisations improve their communications and public affairs activities in relation to scientific research and innovation in agriculture.


Graham Brookes – Agricultural economist

Graham is an agricultural economist with more than 30 years’ experience of examining economic issues relating to the impact of technology, policy changes and regulatory impact.  He has, since the late 1990s, undertaken a number of research projects relating to the impact of agricultural biotechnology and its regulation and written widely on this subject in peer reviewed journals.  This work includes frequent updates of a global economic and environmental impact of GM crops report plus individual GM crop impact studies in Spain, Romania and Vietnam.  He has examined the impact of GMO-related regulations on trade and economies in the EU, the UK and Turkey and undertaken analysis of the impact on the UK economy of not having used crop genetics technology.

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Peter Button - Intergovernmental diplomat

Peter Button brings unique expertise in the role of Intellectual Property in supporting agricultural innovation. He recently retired as Vice Secretary-General at the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), based in Geneva, an intergovernmental organisation whose mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. Originally from a UK commercial plant breeding background, Peter previously served in technical advisory roles in the UK with the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (MAFF).   

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Dr Derrick Wilkinson - Economist

Dr Derrick Wilkinson is a retired UK economist with nearly 40 years’ international experience with the development, analysis, integration and coordination of global trade, environment and agriculture policies. A former chief economist at both the NFU and CLA, he is the author of numerous pioneering papers and research projects published, including in major peer reviewed journals.  

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Daniel Pearsall – co-ordinator

Daniel is a Director of FrontFoot Communications Ltd, providing a strategic, knowledge-based approach to communication and policy development in the farming, food chain and agri-science sectors. He has co-ordinated the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture since it was established in 2008. He also manages a small livestock farm in South West Scotland.  

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