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York leads major new UK food sustainability project

Posted on 14 September 2016

Researchers from the University of York have been awarded a £2.74 million grant to lead a new food systems resilience project.

IKnowFood: Integrating Knowledge for Food Systems Resilience is a four year project funded by the Global Food Security-Food System Resilience programme.

One of five UK interdisciplinary projects to be awarded a portion of £9 million, the collective research looks to improve productivity and sustainability across the food system to ensure resilient supply chains and influence food choices to relieve pressure on global food systems.

The York project, which starts in October, is led by Professor Bob Doherty, Acting Dean of the York Management School (TYMS), with collaborators from across the Universities of York, Liverpool and Manchester.

Professor Doherty explains: “Systems of food production, trade and consumption are increasingly vulnerable to interconnected political, economic and ecological shocks associated with climate, environmental changes, shifts in farming practices and consumer lifestyle changes.

“We will take an interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder approach to develop a unified understanding of ‘food system resilience’ using tools and methods to integrate the knowledge and perspectives of hitherto disparate food system contributors.

“Our aim is to produce new datasets, information resources, technology tools for farmers, decision making tools for business and consumer mobile technologies, all working to minimise trade-offs and secure complementarities.”

Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP, said: “From disease protection to improving management of global food shocks, these research projects will help tackle the serious threat of food shortages. Supporting these exciting and innovative solutions will help the UK food industry be better prepared for external factors and help provide food security to millions around the world.”

The York research application was supported by a range of industry partners including Fairtrade pioneer Cafedirect, supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the Soil Association, IAgrE (The Institution of Agricultural Engineers), the WWF’s Luc Hoffmann Institute, NFU (National Farmers Union) and CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International).

Further information:

  • IKnowFood will recruit a team of post-doctoral research assistants, a programme manager and a data analyst to support the current academic team. For further information please contact Professor Bob Doherty on  or his PA Annette Gath at / 01904 325060.

  • Researchers involved:

    University of York: Professor Bob Doherty (The York Management School), Professor Kate Pickett (Department of Health Sciences), Professor Tony Heron (Politics Department), Dr Peter Howley (Environment Department), Dr Jonathan Ensor and Dr Chris West (The Stockholm Environment Institute at York) and Professor Helen Petrie (Computer Science)

    University of Manchester: Professor Bruce Grieve and Dr Krikor Ozanyan from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

    University of Liverpool: Professor Jason Halford (Institute of Psychology Health and Society)

  • The Global Food Security-Food System Resilience programme is funded with contributions from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Scottish Government. The York project is supported by the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI) and the N8 Agrifood Programme.

  • The Global Food Security-Food System Resilience programme funded projects are:

    Increasing resilience to water-related risks in the UK fresh fruit and vegetable system
    Lead PI: Dr Tim Hess, Cranfield University, in collaboration with researchers from University of East Anglia, East Malling Research and University of Oxford - £1,291,662.31 (fEC)

    Resilience of the UK food system to global shocks (RUGS)
    Lead PI: Professor Mark Rounsevell, University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with researchers from SRUC - £1,004,734.09 (fEC)

    PIGSustain: Predicting the impacts of intensification and future changes on UK pig industry resilience
    Lead PI: Dr Lisa Collins, University of Lincoln, in collaboration with researchers from University of Reading, University of Leeds and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - £2,102,293.73 (fEC)

    IKnowFood: Integrating knowledge for food systems resilience
    Lead PI: Professor Bob Doherty, University of York, in collaboration with researchers from Universities of Manchester and Liverpool- £3,425,141.70 (fEC)

    Securing the future of the UK’s favourite fruit
    Lead PI: Dr Daniel Bebber, University of Exeter, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Oxford - £1,228,612.93 (fEC)

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