Researchers can, and are already, playing a major part in supporting leaders to create new policies that can help improve food security. A new article in Global Environmental Change provides valuable lessons that can be helpful in attempts to better connect food security science with policy-creation.

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The Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) recently published an update of their Global Multidimensional Poverty Index. This is an international measure of acute poverty covering over 100 developing countries. It complements traditional income-based poverty measures by capturing the severe deprivations that each person faces at the same time with respect to education, health and living standards.

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A new study, published in Climatic Change, analyses the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the diets of meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans using the EPIC-Oxford baseline dataset.

It shows that the greenhouse gas emissions for a meat-based diet are approximately twice as high as those for vegans and about 50% higher than for vegetarians.

The study by researchers at the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, both part of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, looked at the diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters and 29,589 meat-eaters aged 20-79 using a food frequency questionnaire.The greenhouse gas emissions of these diets were then estimated using a dataset of greenhouse gas emissions for 94 food commodities in the UK, with a weighting for the global warming potential of each component gas.

The authors concluded that "dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans. It is likely that reductions in meat consumption would lead to reductions in dietary GHG emissions."

The study used data from EPIC-Oxford, a cohort study of 65,000 men and women living in the UK, many of whom are vegetarian, which examines how diet influences the risk of cancer.

Read the full article in Climatic Change.

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New FCRN report - Changing what we eat: A call for research & action on widespread adoption of sustainable healthy eating

Government leadership and substantial investment in research are needed to shift global consumption habits towards eating patterns that are both healthy and sustainable, say academics, industry and NGOs representatives in a new report.

The report, Changing What We Eat, published by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN), part of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, outlines the work needed to shift societies to consumption patterns that can meet both public health and environmental goals.  

Research is now needed in three key areas, say those involved in the report:

  • What are healthy sustainable eating patterns?
  • How do we eat now, why, and what are the health and sustainability implications?
  • How do we achieve positive change?
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By Kyle Turner, University of Oxford and Boyd Swinburn, Deakin University

The most comprehensive global study ever undertaken for obesity was just released and the need for serious population-wide action is no longer up for debate. The study’s key findings make for grim reading – not a single country saw a decline in obesity over the past 30 years.

Instead, between 1980 and 2013, the prevalence of global overweight and obesity increased by 27.5% among adults. What is even more worrying still is that overweight and obesity in children soared by nearly a half (47.1%) in just three decades.

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By Cory Rodgers

On May 4th, the Oxford Food Security Forum hosted its third annual conference at St. Antony’s College, featuring three panels organised around the theme “Critical Perspectives and Marginalised Issues.”

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Good Food Oxford has launched an Oxford Good Food Charter, a vision for a healthy, fair and sustainable food system in Oxford City.

The first page lays out nine points for a better food system, and the second page lists five simple things you or your organisation can do to help achieve the vision - read the Oxford Good Food Charter.

Good Food Oxford is a new network for a better food system in Oxford City, working together for healthy, fair, sustainable and tasty food.

The Charter will be publicly launched during the Good Food Oxford Launch Fest in Bonn Square from 10am-2pm on Saturday 14th June.

If you are interested in getting involved in this initiative, visit the Good Food Oxford website.

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If you missed Prof Jason Hill's talk last week on the "Sustainability Of Our Global Food System: A Life Cycle Perspective", you can listen again to his talk and download his slides.

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University of Minnesota:

Postdoctoral Associates in Sustainability of Food and Bioenergy Systems

Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
College of Science and Engineering

Description: Two postdoctoral associate positions are now available in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Topics for research projects concern the sustainability of food and bioenergy systems. Responsibilities include conducting collaborative research, written and oral communication of results, and preparation of grant reporting materials. Positions are funded by grants from the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), Institute on the Environment (IonE), and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Review of applications will begin immediately.

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An international panel of scientists is calling for an evidence-driven debate over whether a widely used type of insecticide is to blame for declines in bees and other insect pollinators.

The Oxford Martin School published on May 21st the second in its "restatement" series. Restatements take an area of current policy concern and controversy and attempt to set out the science evidence base in as policy neutral way as possible. They also provide a commentary on the nature of the evidence base.

The restatement, from a group of nine scientists led by Professor Charles Godfray and Professor Angela McLean from the Oxford Martin School, attempts to clarify the scientific evidence available on neonicotinoids to enable different stakeholders to develop coherent policy and practice recommendations. 

The study is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.  It is open access and can be downloaded from the Royal Society website here or you can download a single pdf of the paper with the Annotated Bibliography.

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