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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge


Erasmus zu Ermgassen

Erasmus zu Ermgassen

PhD Student, Department of Zoology

Office Phone: 01223 765398


Erasmus qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Cambridge before beginning a BBSRC-funded MRes and PhD program in food security in October 2013. During his veterinary degree he spent one year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked as a research assistant on the Conservation Evidence initiative (, collecting and summarising information on the efficacy of bird conservation interventions. He also completed undergraduate research projects at the Cornell Laboratory of Reproductive Biology and the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, where he worked on finch trichomonosis, an emerging infectious disease of European garden birds.

His PhD is supervised by Professor Andrew Balmford FRS.

Subject groups/Research projects

Land Resources and Regulatory Influences:

Departments and Institutes

Department of Zoology:
PhD Student

Research Interests

I am interested in how we can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture - in particular, meeting the growing demand for meat and dairy products while minimising impacts on biodiversity and the environment. I have ongoing projects evaluating sustainable pathways for beef and soy production in Brazil, and pork production in the EU and China.


Areas of interest include the economics and environmental impacts of alternative animal feed sources (e.g. food waste or insects), the adoption and impacts of higher-yielding cattle ranching in the Brazilian Amazon, and the potential for government- or market-led interventions, such as the Brazilian Cattle Agreement and Soy Moratorium, to reduce the impacts of agricultural production.

Key Publications

zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Balmford, A., & Salemdeeb, R. (2016). Reduce, relegalize, and recycle food waste. Science 352:1526 doi: 10.1126/science.aaf9630

zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Durrant, C., John, S., Gardiner, R., Alrefaei, A.F., Cunningham, A.A., Lawson, B. (in press). Detection of the European epidemic strain of Trichomonas gallinae in finches, but not other non-columbiformes, in the absence of macroscopic disease. Parasitology

Salemdeeb, R.*, zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J.*, Kim, M.H., Balmford, A., Al-Tabbaa, A., (in press). Environmental and health impacts of using food waste as animal feed: a comparative analysis of food waste management options. Journal of Cleaner Production doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.05.049

Phalan, B., Green, R.E., Dicks, L.V., Dotta, G., Feniuk, C., Lamb, A., Strassburg, B.B.N., Williams, D.R., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Balmford, A., (2016). How can higher-yield farming help to spare nature? Science 351, 450–451. doi:10.1126/science.aad0055

Lamb, A., Green, R., Bateman, I., Broadmeadow, M., Bruce, T., Burney, J., Carey, P., Chadwick, D., Crane, E., Field, R., Goulding, K., Griffiths, H., Hastings, A., Kasoar, T., Kindred, D., Phalan, B., Pickett, J., Smith, P., Wall, E., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Balmford, A. (2016). The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Nat. Clim. Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate2910

zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., Phalan, B., Green, R., & Balmford, A. (2016). Reducing the land use of EU pork production: where there's a swill, there's a way. Food Policy 58, 35–48. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2015.11.001

zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J., D.R. Williams & Balmford, A. (2014) Livestock: tackle demand and yields. Nature 508:186–186.


*Joint first authorship