Globally around one third of our crops are lost to pests and diseases, even with the use of modern pesticides, whilst the production of sufficient, safe and nutritious food is increasingly threatened by unpredictable and extreme weather. Given the likely 70% increase in demand for food by 2050, we urgently need new ways to protect our crops and to make them more resilient to the increasing likelihood of drought as temperatures rise and weather patterns change. The ability of our crops to defend against pests and survive drought has been reduced because we have selected varieties with high yield at the expense of other beneficial traits, but it still exists in wild ancestors, offering us the possibility of restoring these capabilities to our crops in the future.

In this talk Professor Sue Hartley, Director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of York, explores the inter-disciplinary approaches which may provide new sustainable methods of crop protection and resilience to climate change. Professor Hartley is Acting Director of the N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme, which is working to ensure sustainable, resilient and healthy food supplies for all, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the President of the British Ecological Society.

This meeting is free and open to all; registration is not necessary. Tea will be served in the Library from 17:30 and the event will be followed by a wine reception. Image © Sue Hartley.