Government Research & Development

  • We provide robust evidence and impartial advice to support the UK Government in the development and implementation of its policies, regulations and legislation in the agri-food sector and the wider environment.
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Government Research & Development

We continue to build upon the position Fera has established over many years, as a leading applied research organisation by working with academic institutions in translating blue-sky ideas into real-world applications. One of our key strategic priorities is to address the crop ‘yield gap’ by deploying our extensive crop health capabilities and in doing so support the UK’s Agri-Tech Strategy. Fera is also working with the food industry, using our expertise in food safety, quality, authenticity, to ensure food integrity and thus protect businesses’ brands and ensure consumer confidence. Fera’s horizon scanning and contingency response capabilities are used by both government and industry alike to ensure prompt and effective responses to emerging risks and incidents.

We work very closely with  UK Government departments and the wider government network, particularly Defra, supporting them in their mission to safeguard the UK's natural environment, to sustain the thriving rural economy and to ensure the economic growth of the  food and farming industry. A major part of this is the continuing partnership with the Defra Plant and Bee Health team and the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA), with the aim of reducing plant and bee health risks through the provision of a comprehensive reference laboratory service, supporting , inspection, surveillance and risk management activities, as well as developing new, innovative diagnostic and monitoring technologies. In addition to Defra, we work with a host of other government departments and bodies including the Food Standards Agency, Home Office, Health & Safety Executive, Environment Agency and Natural England.

Government Projects

About a third of Fera’s revenue is attributed to the delivery of projects for government customers, some key examples are:

Future Proofing Plant Health

This project aims to provide responsive and interdisciplinary evidence supporting the Tree Health Management Plan (2014) and the Plant Health Risk Register.

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The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative

The tree health and plant biosecurity initiative is a major multi-funder, interdisciplinary research project, designed to develop new detection technologies to help protect the UK’s trees, woodlands and forests.

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Development of Metagenomic Methods for Determination of Origin

This project focuses on the development of a new non-targeted approach for determining origin and attribution of food products using microbial fingerprints.

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Multi-Annual National Control Plan for the United Kingdom - Participant

Contributing to monitoring compliance with and enforcement of feed and food law, animal health and welfare rules together with plant health requirements alongside the government departments and agencies.

Basics Project

For the past 2 years Fera has been working with NASC to co-design and make operational the first molecular seed diagnostics testing laboratory for Nigeria, ensuring that NASC can provide a better seed certification service to the seed industry.

The ambition of NASC is to secure good quality certified seed for Nigerian farmers’, and to serve the wider region of west Africa. The importance of seed certification was also observed in preventing the entry and spread of major seed-borne diseases such as Cassava Brown Streak Disease and Maize Lethal Necrosis that, if introduced to western Africa, stand to devastate its agriculture.

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We also work internationally, using our globally-recognised expertise and the extensive capacity within our laboratories, to support other countries across a range of their statutory activities. For example, we provide testing services to deliver the National Residue Control Plans (NRCP) to support national authorities.

International Partnerships

This might be by taking on their whole plan or by undertaking the analyses that official laboratory cannot undertake or are not accredited for. We have robust systems in place to ensure “Chain of Custody” and all analytical methods used for this purpose have been validated to Commission Decision 2002/657/EC and are accredited to the ISO17025 (UKAS) standard.

Fera also contributes extensively to the work of the EU DGs (Directorates-General) and agencies, e.g. DG SANCO and EFSA, and is the partner of choice for EU R&D projects, particularly in “Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy” (KBBE) area. Fera has an excellent track record of co-ordinating collaborative international research activities and impacting European policies and regulations, for example the amendment (Annex IV) to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 that lays down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in animals in order to protect human and animal health.

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