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This Wednesday saw the Society of Biology, in partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), hold the Parliamentary Reception to celebrate Biology Week. Set in the Churchill Room within the House of Commons, the night was a resounding success with over one hundred guests in attendance, including politicians, scientists, students and media representatives.

The night was hosted by Andrew Miller, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Leston, Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Dr Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge. Alongside introductions from the MPs, Tim Benton, a Professor of Population Ecology at Leeds University and also the UK Champion for Food Security, gave a thought-provoking speech about food resources, our responsibilities as consumers and the future of food provision for the global community.

Parliamentary reception - Time BentonThe reception aptly fell on the same evening as World Food Day, making it very fitting to also touch on the Global Food Security programme. The programme, supported by Professor Benton, is aiming to bring food-related research together to resolve the issues facing the world’s growing population and the nutritional demand this will no doubt necessitate.

The evening also tied in with the food resources project taking place on Friday, as schools up and down the country hold science, geography and PSHE lessons talking about food security, food miles and waste issues. This includes an animated video about food waste suitable for assemblies, developed by the Society of Biology in partnership with Global Food Security.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, also presented Helen Brown from the Institute of Food Research with her Registered Scientist award.

Parliamentary reception - RSci

The evening also saw members of the Membership, Marketing and Communications team from the Society of Biology canvasing the crowds to raise food security awareness via a ballot. Five foods were chosen and each representative had to convince people why, hypothetically, their food should be saved if they all faced global obliteration. Wheat unsurprisingly took first place; cheese rolled in second, beef came third, chocolate came in fourth place, with orange trailing in last.

Dr Downs said of the event: “Bringing some of our esteemed members, friends of the Society and advocates for the advancement of science together for this event was an exciting experience.

Parliamentary reception

"It was also an invaluable opportunity to discuss the issues facing food security and to encourage a dialogue concerning resource management across the scientific community. It was a lovely way to mark this year’s Biology Week, and my thanks go out to all that attended and also ran the event.”

The event was one of many occurring across the UK and overseas to commemorate Biology Week, a celebration of the science of the 21st century.

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