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York Festival of Ideas Focus Day: The future of food – From GM crops and stem cell beef to sustainable agriculture and alternative sources of protein

Posted on 30 May 2014

Leading scientists, agriculturists and global food security experts will discuss food sustainability and security, crop production, food culture and the future of GM foods in York on 14 June.

The Future of Food: how to feed 10 billion people, in association with Quorn Foods, commences with a keynote address from population biologist Charles Godfray who will speak on the global challenges and most effective methods in feeding a rising global population.

A series of panel debates and discussions will follow on topics including whether GM foods are a viable source of food, alternative and new technologies to sustain better crop production and the farm to supermarket supply chain. Speakers include Mike Coupe, recently appointed CEO of Sainsburys, Tim Finnigan, Director of Quorn Foods, Cathie Martin, part of the team who developed purple tomatoes at the John Innes Centre, and Philip Lymbery, bestselling author of Farmageddon. Events will be chaired by Sheila Dillon from BBC Radio 4’s Food programme, Michael Jack and Kevin Brennan, CEO of Quorn Foods.

A closing address from Mark Post, the developer of the first stem cell beef burger, will then conclude in a panel debate on food culture and how we can influence behaviour change.

Sponsored by Quorn, the Institute of Engineering and Technology and in partnership with BBC Radio 4, all talks are free to attend. The focus day runs from 11am to 8pm on Saturday 14 June at the University’s Ron Cooke Hub.

In a further celebration of food, the festival is also hosting two events at iconic York landmark, Bettys Cafe. On Friday 13 June, Pen Vogler, the editor of Penguin’s Great Food series, hosts Dinner with Mr Darcy. Exploring the theme of food in Jane Austen’s novels, Pen speaks about food enjoyed by Austen’s characters and a cookbook is available to try recipes at home. On 17 June, chemist Dave Smith from the University of York will reveal the hidden science of the cream tea.

Joan Concannon, Director of the Festival and Director of External Relations at the University of York, said: “Food forms a key part of cultural identity and memory, and yet the world is facing a major challenge in how it feeds a rapidly increasing global population. We are delighted that so many of the world’s leading thinkers, scientists, technologists and food writers have joined together to deliver our such a stimulating array of events during the 2014 York Festival of Ideas."

Further information:

  • The fourth annual York Festival of Ideas features over 140 inspiring, varied and mostly free events taking place across the city and the University of York campus between 12 and 22 June around the theme of ‘order and chaos’. To see the full programme and to book tickets visit:

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