Speaking at the Rothamsted Open Innovation Forum on Thursday (19 January), Mr Freeman said the UK now had a chance to create a legislatory framework which could pave the way for a 'new Victorian age' of applied science with global impact.
“We need global inward investment to our science base to drive out exports of food, farming and technology,” the MP explained.
The rise of 'radical lobbyists' in Europe threatened to legislate the EU back into the dark ages, warned Mr Freeman.
But by opening its doors to global innovators, the UK could once more 'nurture beneficial technologies' and roll them out across the world to help developed and developing countries alike.
“We won’t build a 21st Century economy unless we’re open to the science that we need, and we can’t build a global Britain on a narrow, isolationist platform.”
Mr Freeman said the government had invested heavily in the new Agri-tech strategy, and would be unveiling its Industrial strategy shortly.
In addition to sponsoring key sectors it was committed to a broader programme, opening up new models of innovation, finance and infrastructure, he added.
“It is my passionate belief that this country needs to produce more for less: Globally we need to double food production on the same land area using half as much water. That’s a big challenge, but it’s perfectly do-able.”
Delegates at the conference also heard from Dr Christian Witt from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who explored how technology could be used to help farmers in developing nations to produce more food more sustainably.
Smart phones, the internet and open access to data could all be used to speed up technological development and help nations move from subsistence farming to more productive, profitable systems.