UK scientists to study food security concerns

Grants totalling £1.87 million have been awarded under the Global Food Security programme to address the challenges surrounding the UK agri-food system, food safety, food fraud/crime and consumer trust.

Initiated by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the funding will support five individual projects, grouped under the umbrella title of “Understanding the Challenges of the Food System”.

The ESRC chief executive, Professor Paul Boyle, said the work represented “innovative research into important areas which underpin UK food security”.  

“The projects will deal with priorities such as resilience, safety and security, food price volatility and supply chain management, all of which are recognised as yielding important social science research challenges to be addressed for the mutual benefit of the food industry and consumers alike,” he said.

FSA chief scientific advisor Professor Guy Poppy added: “Achieving food security is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century and we are funding world class social scientists to develop an evidence base in these important but under-researched areas.”

The scientists at the sharp end of the work are: Newcastle University’s Dr Andrew Donaldson, who will focus on food emergencies; Manchester University’s Jon Spencer, who will study food fraud; NatCen Social Researcher, Caireen Roberts, who will examine the impact of food scares; Queens University’s Professor Christopher Elliott, who will explore how food supply chains cope with food fraud/crime; and the University of Hertfordshire’s Dr Wendy Wills, who will assess the perceptions of older people concerning the strengths and vulnerabilities of the UK food system.

The project period begins in September this year and will run for two years.

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