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‘SCRI deserves more recognition’ – Princess Royal

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, has officially opened Scotland’s National Seed Store held at SCRI, the world-ranking crop research centre at Invergowrie in Perth and Kinross.

The Princess Royal gave SCRI her seal of approval when she spoke of the importance of the work undertaken at the institute.

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Watch the film of HRH The Princess Royal's visit.

Speaking after unveiling a plaque to mark the opening of the new, AP glasshouse and the National Seed Store, she said: "Thank-you for your invitation. This is a fascinating place and slightly too hidden a jewel, I think. It deserves more recognition and more understanding. But it's nice to see the investment here and I hope that will continue - that it won't just be 2010 you can be celebrating but many more. Enjoy your new building."

The store houses seed and germplasm collections that are of world importance in the struggle to protect biodiversity. The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity.

Photograph of Professor Peter Gregory and HRH The Princess Royal as she unveils the plaque in the new glasshouse blockThe brief ceremony came during a two hour visit to new, multi-million pound glasshouses at the Invergowrie site. The Princess Royal met some of the 350 staff and workers at SCRI and also paid a visit to the research institute’s farm at Balruddery in Angus. It covers 118 hectares (290 acres approx).

The farm carries the official title ‘Centre for Sustainable Cropping’ and is part of a 20-year experiment to find ways of growing more and healthier crops with fewer resources and minimum damage to the natural environment and biodiversity.

The Princess Royal was guided around the research centre by its Director, Professor Peter Gregory. He said: “This is a great honour for SCRI and a real boost to the scientists and staff here. The National Seed Store and Balruddery Farm are home to important elements of natural biodiversity which we use to improve commercial varieties.

“We have been outlining to Her Royal Highness the significant economic contribution SCRI makes to Scotland and the UK. The soft fruit and potato varieties we breed here have become market leaders. We are making major inroads in the fight against crop pests and diseases that cost farmers millions of pounds. We are also very proud to be part of Dundee and Scotland’s thriving life-sciences sector.”

The visit is a major boost to SCRI which next year will merge with the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen to form a new, food, land and climate change research organisation. It will be the first of its kind in Europe and one of the biggest such centres in the UK.

Photograph of in the new glasshouse of Professor Peter Gregory, HRH The Princess Royal, David Gray, Graham Pitkin, Angela Thain, Ronnie Ogg

Photograph: In the new glasshouse Professor Peter Gregory introduces HRH The Princess Royal to Angela Thain, Deputy Glasshouse Manager. Also shown from left to right David Gray, Electrical Engineering Manager, Graham Pitkin, Glasshouse Manager and Ronnie Ogg, Plant Production Assistant.

SCRI has been in Invergowrie since the early 1950s. The centre works closely with the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Dundee and also includes Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS).

The Princess Royal also met staff from Mylnefield Research Services Ltd, the commercial arm of SCRI. Established in 1989 it has made a profit in every year of trading and in the last 10 years has returned £2 million in profits to SCRI in gift aid.

MRS partners include some of the biggest companies in the food and drink sector including GSK, Greenvale AP, McCain, Pepsico, Marks & Spencer and Limagrain. The Vales Sovereign potato was awarded Tesco’s ‘Fresh Produce Variety of the Year’ accolade soon after launch. MRS manages 473 licences in 23 countries.

Through the efforts of MRS, Glen Ample is the No. 1 raspberry grown in the UK and Glen Lyon is the No. 1 raspberry grown in Spain. An estimated 50% of the world’s blackcurrants were bred at SCRI and licensed by MRS.

Before she left SCRI, the Princess Royal was presented with a collection of jams and conserves made from the berries bred in Invergowrie and now famous around the world.

Notes to Editors

The Scottish Government provides £23 million to both SCRI (£13 million) and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (£10 million) for bespoke research - about three-quarters of their income. The organisations also have contracts from the European Union and other research sponsors.

More information from:

Phil Taylor, Head of Communications, SCRI, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA. Tel: 01382 560044 (direct line), Mobile: 07810 860 701 or

Lorraine Wakefield, Information and Online Service Officer, SCRI, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA. Tel: 01382 560047 (direct line) or 562731 (switchboard).