A digest of the Global Food Security website and blog. Arran Frood reviews.

Arran Frood

It’s been more than two years now since the Global Food Security (GFS) website, and this blog, was launched.

This short post I hope will serve as a big ‘thank you’ to everyone involved, highlight some of the content we have published during this time, and most importantly flag some recent improvements, such as the new blog post ‘notification by email’ box to the right, and our Twitter feed: @FoodSecurityUK.

This website covers a broad range of views, opinions and information from across the GFS programme, its Strategic Plan, as well as from partners and wider, global agricultural and food security-related disciplines.

Resource central

We’re pleased that since December 2009 this blog has published exclusive and original articles every fortnight written by a broad and talented community of people with an interest or professional stake in the issues – my hearty thanks from a grateful editor. (I’ve highlighted the wide range of our blog posts below).

There are, of course, other blogs about food security besides this one. Can you help us by letting us know of any that we could link to?

We already have a Resource Centre on this site that has a Bibliography of links to international and UK organisations, reports, as well as magazine special issues and statistics databases. If you publish or encounter similar material, please do let us know.

We’re particularly interested in highlighting other blogs, so if you enjoy other food security and agriculture-related blogs, let us know at web@foodsecurity.ac.uk and we’ll add them to the list of more than 20 we already have. (And if you also manage a similar resource, don’t forget to add us too.)

Evolution, not revolution

A minor revamp of the homepage and new content streams are in the pipeline.

With a few modifications we’ll be able to better highlight some of the content we’re adding to the site. A good example is the videos that are tucked away in some of the features that go up in the Current Research section, which is the place to go for more in-depth features and is one of the most regularly updated parts of the site.

We’ve added a video archive so you can see videos on everything from new world-class laboratories for animal virus research to field work on pollinating insects to targeting the next virus to eradicate after the successful eradication of rinderpest. But the new front page will highlight our latest videos, as well as further highlight our newest blog posts.

Partnerships

As mentioned, the Current Research section is home to articles about ongoing food security-related research. In each case, the research is funded by one or more of the GFS partners.

Hence, this section highlights research funded by all partners, such as NERC supporting examination of the damage caused by fish farms; DFID have been involved with helping farmers in Africa use insurance to safeguard their food security; EPSRC have pioneered e-Science digital technologies for remote farming communities; and there is also the ESRC-sponsored Food Climate Research Network, which is a great resource for investigating all matters related to climate change and food security.

Blogtastic

GFS partners have also contributed to the blog and we’d love to hear from new bloggers, not only from among our partners, but from within the academic community, and far beyond to farmers, food specialists and consumers. And of course, if you’ve already written for the GFS blog then we’d love to hear from you again.

If you have an idea for a blog post please send ideas to arran.frood@bbsrc.ac.uk and I’ll be more than happy to assist you if you’re new to blog posts – just think of it as an article in which you can use your personal opinions and experience a little more. The best posts often weave the author’s personal expertise with thoughts and feelings on a given topic, and backed up by a killer statistic or two.

Many food security blogs repost all sorts of articles, from features to press releases and interviews. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we want to make this blog one of the go-to websites for original, incisive articles that have more editorial vigour than perhaps some would expect on a corporate or academic platform.

We’ve had great posts on subjects as diverse as the need for alternatives to nitrogen fertilisers, the prospects of enhancing photosynthesis, the aquaculture debate, the potential of organic food, and the effects of commodity trading on food prices.

We’ve run reportage-style posts too, such as on the food crisis in West Africa, the Durban Climate Change Conference, G20 meetings, working for BBC Countryfile on ‘megafarms’, and research collaboration in Brazil by John Lucas.

I’m sure there aren’t that many sites that carry posts with a such a diversity of views from advocating GM technology alongside promoting organic systems, followed by a post by GFS Champion Tim Benton that argue that there is much more to the conventional vs organic debate.

And do bear in mind that we love comments on our blog posts. Don’t be shy! Have your say and let’s make this blog a fine forum for mature debate.

About Arran Frood

Arran Frood manages content for the Global Food Security website and is commission editor this blog in his role as Web Content Writer for BBSRC. The External Relations Unit of BBSRC delivers communications and public engagement for the Global Food Security programme on behalf of all the programme partners.

Frood has been working in science media since 2000. Prior to joining BBSRC, he was a full-time freelance science journalist and editor and has written for a variety of specialist and popular websites, books and magazines, including New Scientist, Nature and BBC Online, as well as newspapers such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.

From 2005-2007 he worked for the science journal Nature, first as Web Editor and then as Web Projects Editor; during the later position he created the History of the Journal Nature website.

Before working for Nature, he worked at the Science Photo Library which was his first science media job after graduating from Imperial College in 1996 with a BSc in Biology and in 1997 an MSc in Pest Management (applied entomology) from where his interest in all things agricultural stems.

Follow him on Twitter: @arranfrood

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