Millions dished out to boost sustainability and resilience in the British food system

Posted: 6 October 2017 | | No comments yet

Five projects have been awarded funding totalling £4.9 million to ensure greater resilience of the UK’s food supply from global shocks, environmental and demographic changes, and threats posed by pests and diseases.


GROWING VENTURE: UK Global Food Security Programme is the nation's biggest supporter of food related research

The projects bring together researchers and food producers, manufacturers and retailers working in several areas; from understanding the role of phosphorus as a key nutrient in crop and livestock production to better understanding of how different landscapes affect crop pollinating insects.

Other research seeks to understand the complex links between dairy production, animal health, and the natural ecosystems upon which they depend, the resilience of beef and sheep production in remote, upland regions of Northern England and Scotland and sustainable economic and ecological grazing, along with the effectiveness of innovative farm management.

The UK’s Global Food Security programme awarded £7.2 million worth of research in August 2016 with projects including research into protecting crops from pests and increasing tolerance to adverse weather conditions.

Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “The Global Food Security programme is an excellent example of interdisciplinary research, bringing together a range of expertise across the biological, environmental and social sciences to address the many uncertainties facing the UK’s food system.

“Research is a vital part of our Industrial Strategy, and by increasing funding in this area we are helping ensure the future security of the UK food sector, while reinforcing our position as a world leader in science and innovation.”

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “The Scottish government recognises the important role that scientific research contributes towards addressing the significant challenges that our food systems face going forward. That is why we are proud to continue to support the Global Food Security programme to ensure the future security of our food system.”

Director of the Global Food Security programme, Riaz Bhunnoo, added: “This research showcases the vital role of the Global Food Security programme, and follows directly from our horizon-scanning, engagement with policy and business and our interdisciplinary food systems approach to the challenges. The research programme as a whole will help ensure the UK food system is resilient in a rapidly changing world.”

The research programme was driven forward by the UK’s Global Food Security programme, with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Scottish Government.

The funded projects are:

  • The role of Phosphorus in the resilience and sustainability of the UK food system
    Lead PI: Professor Paul Withers, Bangor University, £1.51 million
  • Modelling Landscapes for Resilient Pollination Services in the UK
    Lead PI: Professor Simon Potts, University of Reading, £592,000 
  • Resilient dairy: socio-technical innovation for dairy resilience and sustainability
    Lead PI: Professor Mark Reed, Newcastle University, £1.49 million
  • Sustainable economic and ecological grazing systems – learning from innovative practitioners
    Lead PI: Dr Lisa Norton, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, £621,000
  • The role of livestock in food system resilience in remote, upland regions
    Lead PI: Dr Ann Bruce, The University of Edinburgh, £686,000