On 30 April GFS held its second annual Science Advisory Group meeting in London. This one-day workshop brought together a variety of system-thinking experts from across the food system to discuss the current events and recent scientific advancements that are likely to impact the global and UK food security landscapes in the future.
Five innovation projects that directly seek to enhance food security have been shortlisted for the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council’s (BBSRC) prestigious Innovator of the Year awards. BBSRC leads on the Global Food Security programme, which is hosted by UK Research and Innovation.
Bananas, the UK’s favourite fruit, appear at first glance to be among our most reliable and resilient fresh produce. They are stocked in every supermarket on every day of the year, and their price seldom varies by more than a few pence per kilo. But beneath this apparently smooth and steady supply lies a complex international network affected by extreme weather, plant disease, social and political shifts, and the looming threat of climate change.
The risk of extreme weather hitting several major food producing regions of the world at the same time could triple by 2040. This was the major finding from a GFS report on extreme weather and the food system, which was presented at the AAAS meeting and at the US Senate.
GFS has catalysed a strategic approach to soil science which has helped galvanise investment in research and training. UK soils are worth £5.3 billion to our economy – 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil is lost each year in the UK costing farmers £9 million.
GFS has helped facilitate an £18.5 million multidisciplinary research initiative to help protect animal and human health in the face of emerging livestock farming systems. Meat demand is predicted to rise by 40% in 2030 and there are significant risks to health associated with the rapidly changing nature of livestock farming systems to meet demand: 60% of human pathogens and 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic.