British Sugar secures £660k funding to work on resistance against virus yellows 

A governmental financial boost along with British Sugar’s own funding will ensure further research into how gene editing can be used to benefit the British sugar beet crop. 

The funding from Innovate UK’s Farming Futures R&D Fund was awarded jointly to British Sugar, agricultural biotechnology company Tropic and the John Innes Centre (JIC). 

The British Beet Research Organisation, a dedicated research centre for the UK’s beet sugar industry, will also support the project. The work will cost £1m, with £663,443 in government grant aid and the remainder from British Sugar, Tropic and JIC. 

Resistance to virus yellows

The project will use Tropic’s Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing (GEiGS) technology platform to introduce minimal, precise genetic changes to redirect sugar beet’s own natural defence mechanisms towards enabling resistance to Virus Yellows. 

This crop disease had a severe impact on the homegrown sugar industry in 2020, with significant impacts on the livelihoods of British sugar beet growers. 

Ultimately, successful project outcomes will protect British sugar beet farmers from potentially catastrophic losses to Virus Yellows disease, increase crop productivity, resilience, and sustainability, while supporting progression towards net zero emissions in English agriculture.  

It will also build technical capabilities in sugar beet gene editing for the UK and, more generally, develop other traits to protect and enhance the crop.     

READ MORE: Emergency neonic seed treatment approved to protect sugar beet crop

A game changer

British Sugar agriculture director, Dan Green, welcomed the investment and said that the funding will help the company make “great strides” in their work towards protecting the sugar beet crop from Virus Yellows disease, and potentially other crop diseases in the future.  

Chief technology officer at Tropic, Ofir Meir, said: “The GEiGS technology, which combines elements of precision breeding techniques like gene editing and a naturally occurring immunity mechanism known as gene silencing, is a game changing platform allowing us to develop improved varieties of sugar beet that are better able to withstand disease – and environmental – pressures to enable much more sustainable cropping practices.” 

Innovate UK executive director for the healthy living and agriculture domain, Dr Stella Peace, added: “The portfolio of innovative projects spans from the early stages of ideation and feasibility testing to advanced development and demonstration. This dynamic blend of innovators reflects our commitment to supporting the entire innovation journey, fostering groundbreaking ideas and propelling projects towards successful commercialisation.” 

Read more sugar beet articles here.

© Farmers Guide 2024. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use Privacy Policy

Website Design by Unity Online

We have moved!

We’ve now moved to our new office in Stowmarket. If you wish to contact us please use our new address:

Unit 3-4 Boudicca Road, Suffolk Central Business Park, Stowmarket, IP14 1WF

Thank you,

The Farmers Guide Team