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5th International Symposium on New Crops and Uses: Their Role in a Rapidly Changing World

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3-4 September, 2007

Southampton, UK

There has been relatively little scientific or economic interest in new/underutilised crops over the past 30 years or so, with most attention and funding focused on improving the few species on which the world's population increasingly depends to feed itself.  However, the situation is now changing rapidly - for several reasons. 

  • Global warming is increasingly recognised as being a reality, as is its negative impact on the production and productivity of these major crops in different parts of the world. 
  • Secondly, population growth continues towards its projected peak of 10 billion persons, with a continuing need for more land to be brought into production, for the available land to be used more productively and for it to produce food of a higher nutritional value. 
  • Thirdly, the recognition that we cannot continue to be dependent upon fossil fuels either for energy or as a raw material for plastics and other manufactured materials, and that increasingly such energy and raw materials must come from renewable sources. 

In practice, much of the land that needs to be brought into cultivation is not suited - whether for reasons of soil, slope or climate - for mechanised production of the current few crops on which we depend, and there is a growing need for both diversity and novelty.

Further, with an estimated 20% of the world's food coming from traditional farming sources, the opportunity exists to build on the best practices of these traditional farmers, many of whom are NOT growing the major cereal crops.  

It is in this context that new/underutilised crops are at last - after years of being in the wilderness - coming into their own.  This is, therefore, an ideal time to take stock of where those scientists, farmers and others who are interested in new/underutilised crops have got to, how we got here, what lessons have been learned, what are the pressing and practical requirements of mankind in the coming years and how can we respond to that need.


Session 1

The context, justification and application of underutilized crops in a rapidly changing world.

  • Climate change perspective
  • Food & nutrition perspective
  • The regulatory environment for commercialization of new/ucs

Session 2.

The need for underutilized crops in a changing world

  • A view from the market
  • A subsistence farmer’s perspective- underutilized crops within farming systems
  • Commercial farmer’s perspective
  • An industry perspective
  • A supermarket view on underutilised crops marketing
  • A donor’s perspective

Session 3 

Success, failures and lessons learned- food & nutritional crops: Case studies

Session 4   

Success, failures and lessons learned- non-food crops: Case studies

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Bio-energy
  • Fibre etc
  • Added value products

Session 5    

Discussion  for a) regulatory and b) technical papers

Organising Group

Dr. John Meadley (Former Chief Executive, Rural Investment Overseas)
Dr. Peter Lapinskas (Consultant)
Mr. Roger Smith (TAA, Former Chair, ICUC Board)
Prof. J.T. Williams (Former Director, International Board for Plant Genetic Resources)
Mr. George Taylor-Hunt (Tropical Agriculture Association)
Ms. Lucy Hodsman- (National Non-food Crops Centre)
Dr. Nazmul Haq (Southampton University, Former (Founding) Director, ICUC

For further information please contact:

Nikkie Hancock    (E-mail:
Colm Bowe         (E-mail:

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