Defra appoints GFS project lead to bring food systems approach to policy-making

Professor Bob Doherty, Principle Investigator (PI) of the IKnowFood project, one of the 13 projects of Global Food Security’s Resilience of the UK Food System in a Global Context research programme, has been appointed as food system lead in a new multidisciplinary programme from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Launched in May 2019, the Defra Systems Research Programme aims to brings the research and policy worlds closer to combat environmental and social issues. Professor Doherty, of the University of York, is one of the six academic Fellows tasked with understanding key policy questions. He is the PI of the four-year IKnowFood project, which takes an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to developing a unifying understanding of food system resilience.

The programme, led by Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, will combine the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking. Focusing on five key systems: food, rural land use, air quality, marine, and resources and waste, the Defra programme aims to deliver innovative, evidence-based solutions.

Professor Bob Doherty said:

Bob Doherty Bob-Doherty © IKnowFood

‘It’s exciting to be part of Defra’s new Systems Programme team and I’m looking forward to taking an interdisciplinary food systems approach in policy making. It’s an opportunity to embed the research evidence from the work of research programmes such as the Global Food Security Programme and N8 Agrifood into Defra and other Government departments to create more holistic approaches.”

“As a sector, food and farming is critical to the UK economy and comprises our largest manufacturing sector. Despite its key role, our food system is under increasing pressure from a range of environmental and socioeconomic drivers – these include climate change, rising health costs due to poor diets and increasing political risks. Taking a food systems approach will allow policy teams to see the connections between stakeholders, identify trade-offs, potential complementarities and any unintended consequences from policy development.”

The final reports from the Systems Research Programme will be published on the Defra Science Search website. Read the full statement from Defra here:

Sign up to our newsletter