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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Welcome to the Newsletter of the University of Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative for July 2015


Registrations will be closing soon for the Global Food Security Cambridge Symposium 2015, taking place next Wednesday (8 July) at The Sainsbury Laboratory. There is an eclectic range of 12 talks, as well as a session on making a difference through our research, featuring Steve Wearne (Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, FSA). For catering purposes it is necessary to register before Monday, so please do so here if you intend to come.


This month, recent graduate Joanna Wolstenholme is undertaking a communications internship with the Initiative. She will be helping to report on the symposium, and also refreshing the content of the website – look out for some differences at If anyone has any suggestions for the website, and also any images that could be used on it, please contact Joanna at before 17 July.


I look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday.


Dr Will Simonson, Coordinator, Global Food Security Strategic Research Initiative, tel: +44 (0)1223 333925


News and announcements


Global Food Security Cambridge Symposium (8 July 2015)

Bookings are still open for the one-day symposium taking place at the Sainsbury Laboratory on Wednesday 8th July 2015, 9.30–4.30. The aim of the day is to learn about and be inspired by food security research taking place across the University, and explore ways in which collaboration across disciplines can bring greater impact.

FAO Assesses Climate Change Impacts on Food Security and Trade

In a book reviewing scientific and economic climate change impacts on food and agriculture over the past 20 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) underscores policy implications for hunger, poverty and global food trade. Based on evidence gathered by a group of scientists and economists over these two decades, the book is intended as an accessible source for decision makers and practitioners working on food security, health and nutrition, water scarcity and climate adaptation.

Water for Food Security and Nutrition

A new report from the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition takes up the issue of water, noting in its first paragraphs that, "Water is key to human life. It is key to human food security and nutrition." The document is extensive, and includes a diagram exploring conceptual linkages between the three sectors (pg. 27), covers issues around water access and quality for both households and for agricultural use, and ends with a section focused on governance. Sections 1.4 and 1.5 focus most explicitly on trends related to water demands, hygiene, sanitation, and food production.


Spatial Trends in Indian Agriculture

Using almost half a century of data on area and production of major crops at the district level from ICRISAT's VDSA database, the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative (TCi) has mapped this evolution in farming. A three-year average of data from 1967-1969 shows the status of agriculture in the late 1960s, which is then juxtaposed against an average of data from 2007-2009 (late 2000s). Comparing the landscape across time illuminates patterns of how and where agriculture has changed in India, perhaps enabling more targeted interventions to address the shortcomings of the last fifty years. Insights into the spatial patterns of food production can inspire research and advocacy for more targeted interventions for malnutrition in the parts of India that need them most. See: Spatial Trends in Indian Agriculture 1960s to 2000s


ADAS Study - Plant breeding vital for sustainable agriculture

By developing crop varieties with higher yields, improved resource use efficiency and reduced environmental impact, plant breeding is a major contributor to meeting the goals of sustainability in agriculture, according to an independent review published recently. Infographic here.


Junior Researcher Task Force wanted for 2nd International Conference on Global Food Security (NY) (deadline: 15 July)

Researchers will be responsible for capturing and distributing via social media the big and recurring conversation topics that evolve under each thematic area. Selected members will attend all thematically-related sessions, use Twitter during the conference, and write blog posts immediately following to synthesize the most exciting research and new ideas. Graduate students, post-docs, and other junior research staff with an established professional social media presence (preferred) or an interest in cultivating one are encouraged to apply.


Future Solutions for a Food Secure World – Call for Abstracts (deadline: 31 July)

In this Special Issue of Solutions, young thinkers (under 40 years of age) from around the globe are invited to propose innovative solutions for a food secure world. Papers on any topic relating to food secure futures are welcome, including, but not limited to: agriculture, aquaculture, climate change, consumption, energy and biofuels, fisheries, indigenous food systems, labour and migration, pastoralism, and urban food systems.


Online consultation on the role of research in global food security and nutrition (until 1 September 2015)

The European Commission launched an online consultation to gather the views of stakeholders, citizens and the scientific community on the role that research has to play in tackling the challenges of food and nutrition security. The questions are based on the discussion paper with the same title prepared by the Steering Committee of the EU Scientific Programme of Expo Milano 2015. Deadline for contributions: 1st September 2015.





14 July 2015: Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum Keynote Seminar: Meeting the challenges of food security: innovation, sustainability and international collaboration

Central London

A seminar organised by the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum, to discuss priorities for food security in the UK, and Britain’s role in helping meet global challenges.


16 July, 2015:  Soil Biodiversity: How to Explore and Utilise Life in Soils?

Fowden Hall, Rothamsted Research, Hertfordshire

Join us for this public meeting as part of our event series to mark 2015 as the International Year of Soils and to celebrate our soil science research. 19:30 to 21:30.


16 July, 2015: "Beneath our Feet" - North Wyke Farm Platform, Rothamsted

North Wyke Farm Platform, Devon

Hear from experts and farmers on: understanding soil types; soil structure issues and productivity; new grass and clover varieties; and alternative approaches to grassland management. 10:30 to 14:15.


29 July, 2015: Joint forces help African farmers increase yields

Fowden Hall, Rothamsted Research, Hertfordshire

Come and hear how HSoA collaboration with Rothamsted Research, to increase crop yields for farmers by using an environmentally friendly pest control system, is transforming farming in Eastern Uganda. 19:30 to 22:00.


30–31 July 2015: 2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference 2015 (EBAFOSC 2)

UN Complex, Nairobi, Kenya

Taking place under the theme, 'Re-imagining Africa's Food Security Now and into the Future under a Changing Climate,' this conference will convene a number of round-tables, discussions and plenary sessions to discuss how ecosystem based adaptation (EBA) can be used to improve food security across the continent.


7–10 September 2015: The 5th international symposium for farming systems design: Multi-functional farming systems in a changing world

Montpellier, France


10 September 2015: Next steps for UK food waste policy – waste reduction, innovation and anaerobic digestion

Central London

Organised by the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum, this conference will bring together policymakers and key stakeholders to discuss the future of UK food waste policy and the role that producers, retailers, households and government can play in reducing waste across the food chain. 9.00-13.00.


14–25 September 2015: Lost harvest and wasted food

Wageningen, The Netherlands

A course organised by the Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation


23–24 September 2015: Agriculture for food security post 2015 – the role of science - Agri4D  2015

Uppsala, Sweden


11–14 October 2015: Elsevier Second International Conference on Global Food Security

Cornell University, US


22nd October 2015: Next steps for UK Agricultural Technologies - investment, research and progress from the catalyst projects

Central London

A Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Keynote Seminar




If you have any relevant papers recently published or in press, please keep us informed.


Worrall EA, Wamonje FO, Mukeshimana G, Harvey JJW, Carr JP, Mitter N. 2015. Bean Common Mosaic Virus and Bean Common Mosaic Necrosis Virus: Relationships, Biology, and Prospects for Control. Advances in Virus Research 93:1–46.


Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, G., Lightfoot, E., O'Connell, T.C., Voyakin, D., Liu, X., Loman, V., Svyatko, S., Usmanova, E. & Jones, M.K. (July 2015) The extent of cereal cultivation among the Bronze Age to Turkic period societies of Kazakhstan determined using stable isotope analysis of bone collagen. Journal of Archaeological Science, 59: 23–34.


Sutcliffe, L.M.E, … Dicks, L. et al. (June 2015) Harnessing the biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland. Diversity and Distributions, 21(6): 722–730.


Guerry, A.D. … Vira, B. (June 2015) Natural capital and ecosystem services informing decisions: From promise to practice. PNAS, 112(24): 7348–7355.


Qin, Y., Curmi, E., Kopec, G.M., Allwood, J.M. & Richards, K.S. (July 2015) China's energy-water nexus – assessment of the energy sector's compliance with the “3 Red Lines” industrial water policy. Energy Policy, 82: 131–143.


Owen, N.A., Fahy, K.F. & Griffiths, H. (June 2015) Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) offers sustainable bioenergy production and resilience to climate change. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12272





Newton Researcher Links workshop grants (deadline 13 July 2015)

This element of Newton Researcher Links provides financial support to bring together a UK/partner country bilateral cohort of early career researchers to take part in workshops to: build research capacity in developing economies; build links for future collaboration, and enhance the researchers’ career opportunities.


Grant for workshop in Brazil on NGS in agriculture – British Council (deadline 29 July 2015)

This enables UK and Brazilian researchers to attend a workshop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 12 to 16 October 2015, on next generation sequencing applications to improve livestock welfare, food security and socioeconomic stability in Brazil. All travel, accommodation and meals will be covered.


Newton-Bhabha PhD placements programme – British Council (deadline 31 July 2015)

This enables UK and Indian PhD students to spend between three and six months in Indian and UK higher education institutions. Funding covers the cost of visa fees, economy class international airfares, overseas medical insurance and in-country costs, including accommodation and a monthly stipend of up to £1,300 for Indian students and INR25,000 for UK students.

Newton Fund - for collaborative research proposals in rice research (deadline: 15 August 2015)

Up to £6.5M is available for bilateral or multilateral collaborative research proposals comprising eligible researchers from the UK, China, Thailand, the Philippines or Vietnam. All proposals will be required to have a UK Principal Investigator, in addition to a Principal Investigator from one or more of the partner countries.


NERC: Understanding & Sustaining Brazilian Biome Resources (deadline: 2 September 2015)

NERC and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) are inviting research proposals under this 'Understanding and Sustaining Brazilian Biome Resources' call. This call is supported by the UK through the Newton Fund which forms part of the UK governments Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is only open to joint UK-Brazil applications.


Innovate UK

Three agri-tech catalyst grant awards available, for projects in various stages of development.

  • Industrial research: for business-led collaborative projects that develop any relevant innovative solutions from across all sectors of agri-tech or other industrial sectors, and that advance the sustainable intensification of global agriculture, including aquaculture, by developing innovative solutions. For projects of up to three years, worth up to £3 million each. Deadline: 7 Oct 2015
  • Early Stage: for pre-industrial research feasibility studies that explore the commercial potential of an early-stage innovative idea, through review of research evidence and application potential in agri-food production, assessment of business opportunity or scoping for further development. For projects of up to 18 months, costing between £150,000 and £500,000.  Deadline: 13 Jan 2016
  • Late stagefor experimental development projects that test and validate innovative concepts in a commercial environment to demonstrate their economic and technical feasibility ahead of large-scale deployment. For projects of up to one year, worth up to £1 million each. Deadline: 13 Jan, 2016