We are pleased to announce the appointment of the new coordinator of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, Dr Michael Panagopulos, who started this week at the University of Oxford. We apologise for any delays in response to queries in recent months while we have been recruiting for the position and we thank you for your patience while Michael gets up to speed.

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The British Nutrition Foundation Prize for outstanding achievement in nutrition has been awarded to Professor Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

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A consortium brought together by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food has received a major award from the Wellcome Trust as part of their 'Our Planet, Our Health' programme.

The project will look at the consequences of the global increase in the consumption of meat, dairy and other animal-sourced foods and how it affects the environment and human health.  It will focus on how to achieve changes towards more sustainable and healthy diets.

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In climate change adaptation and development circles we often speak of ‘politics’ and ‘power’ as things that stand in the way of progress. We see this frequently in international negotiations where obstruction and grandstanding are common negotiating tactics by politically motivated actors. Yet this negative view of politics is altogether more widespread than that—it’s present in national planning workshops, project development, and just about any forum were complex interests are negotiated. 

Because power and politics are viewed as inherently negative forces, climate change adaptation theorists and practitioners are often guilty of creating a political deficit in adaptation— that is, we choose to avoid these forces altogether. Instead, we view climate change and its responses as a purely technical endeavour, modelling impacts and using empirical data to prioritize adaptation actions (science rightly tells us that this is the correct approach!). 

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Two new posts have recently been advertised at the University of Sheffield as part of the N* agri-food resilience programme.

Both pasts are for two years, with a closing date of 25th April.

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Article published by Nature (Nature 531, 551 (31 March 2016) doi:10.1038/531551a) written by Dr Adam Briggs

 

Health campaigners and political observers got a surprise in the United Kingdom's latest budget. This month, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a sugar tax in the form of a levy on sugary-drinks manufacturers.

This is a bold and welcome move from a Conservative government that has often been criticized for not standing up to industry. It demonstrates that officials and policymakers have heeded advice and now recognize that sugar is a public-health problem that needs legislative control. The tax has potential implications not just for public health and the global soft-drinks industry, but also for the ability of all governments to act on market failures in food.

Britain will not be the first place to introduce a sugar-drink tax. Mexico, France, Hungary and Finland, among others, have taxed sugary drinks; South Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia and India are considering doing so. Hungary and Finland have also taxed some unhealthy foods.

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A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (US).

 

The study, published today in PNAS, is the first to estimate both the health and climate change impacts of moving towards more plant-based diets for all major world regions.

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Our researchers' reactions to George Obsorne's inclusion of a sugar tax in the latest governmental budget:

Professor Susan Jebb:

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  • By 2050, reduced fruit and vegetable intake could cause twice as many deaths as under-nutrition
  • Three-quarters of all climate-related deaths due to changes in food production are estimated to occur in China and India

 

Read the accessible PDF here

 

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By John Ingram, Food Systems Programme Leader, Environmental Change Institute, on the 'Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System' report to which he contributed:

It is well recognised that climate change poses considerable risks to global food production: IPCC AR5 and many other analyses detail where, by how much and to what types of production system given degrees of climate change will have impact. There are, however, fewer analyses of the challenges facing the food system as a whole. While disruptions to production are clearly important, climate change – and extreme weather in particular – will impact many of the food system’s ‘post-farm gate’ activities and hence food security; food security depends on more than just food production. For instance, damage to food transport and storage infrastructure due to storms and floods causes local shortages, affecting food affordability and variety. Temperature and humidity changes can lead to numerous food safety issues, and hence both health considerations and food waste, the later also affecting availability. Consumer behaviour can also change, leading to changes in diets and hence nutrition.

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