Princess Royal opens Scotland's National Seed Store

SCOTLAND'S National Seed Store which was opened yesterday by the Princess Royal was described by Peter Gregory, the director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute where it is based as "an important link in helping to feed the world".

The store houses seed and germplasm collections that are of world importance in the struggle to protect biodiversity and it forms the third phase of a major modernisation programme at the research station.

During her visit, the Princess Royal met some of the 350 staff at SCRI which has a worldwide reputation in crop breeding and science. She also paid a visit to the research Institute's farm at Balruddery in Angus.

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The 290 acre farm carries the official title "Centre for Sustainable Cropping" and is part of a 20-year experiment to find ways of growing more and healthier crops with fewer resources and minimum damage to the environment and biodiversity.

Gregory said he had outlined the significant economic contribution SCRI makes to Scotland and the UK.

"The soft fruit and potato varieties we breed here have become market leaders. We are making major inroads in the fight against crop pests and diseases that cost farmers millions of pounds. We are also proud to be part of Dundee and Scotland's thriving, life-sciences sector."

The institute was now working on getting new facilities that will be used in research related to climate change. "We are looking at new ways of recording size and shapes of plants so we can do so as fast as recording genes."

Gregory also confirmed that work was progressing towards the link-up between SCRI and the Macaulay Land Use Institute in Aberdeen.