The National Farmers' Union has hailed EC plans to create a chief scientific adviser a major step forward in meeting the challenges of climate change and food security.

Speaking on the eve of his re-election last month, EC president José Manuel Barroso pledged to create a chief scientific adviser with the power to deliver proactive, scientific advice through all stages of policy development. He also outlined plans for a root-and-branch review of the way European institutions used scientific advice.

His comments were welcomed by NFU president Peter Kendall, who said the move was integral to Europe's success as a food producer in the global marketplace.

"The NFU is fully behind this suggestion by Barroso and his desire to see science embedded in all stages of policy development and delivery," he said.

EU legislation needed to be based on scientific evidence and not formed for political reasons, Kendall added. The EC's stance on pesticide regulation, which the NFU has criticised for threatening the viability of many crops, was a prime example of politics overruling science, he said.

The UK already has its own government chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, who has been credited with making a significant contribution to the food security agenda and issuing warnings about the danger of inaction on climate change.