Leading agricultural scientists have proposed a new global crop alliance in the face of increasing challenges to food and nutrition security.

In response to the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and mounting populations that threaten global food security, a group of crop scientists have called for a global crop network.

Proposed in the latest edition of the journal Science, the scientists say the Global Crop Improvement Network (GCIN) would revolutionise crop research, increasing understanding of crop performance around the world and accelerating the adoption of vital technologies.

The scientists come from a range of institutions and organisations, including the FAO, US Bureau for Food Security, Bayer, Gates Foundation and BBSRC, among others.

The proposed model is based on the 1960s International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN) and would similarly entail a climate of international research collaboration and data sharing, through research systems and ‘field laboratories’. This would translate scientific discovery rapidly into global improvements in crop yields and could be supported by public-private partnerships.

The proposed GCIN is vital for Scotland and the UK, and their research institutes, to become better at sharing resources and scientific knowledge, according to Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) principal and chief executive Professor Wayne Powell.

“Through the international research collaboration and data-sharing that underpins IWIN and the recommended GCIN, we have a huge opportunity to tackle in new ways the big global challenges of food and nutrition security while delivering new knowledge efficiently and providing value for money for those investing in research,” he said.