Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN Newsletter

We send out a weekly newsletter which provides an essential round-up of food sustainability-relevant publications, articles, jobs and events. Sign up to receive it, or better still join as an FCRN member and connect with our diverse network of members.


We currently have a vacancy for a 12-month postdoctoral position at the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, working with Dr Tara Garnett (FCRN) and Anna Taylor of the Food Foundation.

This research project will scope the development of appropriate and useful metrics for use by investors, civil society, government agencies or businesses that assess food industry progress in delivering healthy and sustainable diets, and build a multi-stakeholder partnership to advance their uptake.

If you have a relevant PhD / DPhil or a Master's degree; experience of working outside the academic sector; and excellent written communication and people skills this position could be for you. You will lead the research for the project including interviewing key informants, building a network of stakeholders, and writing the interim and final reports.


Research library

In the Research Library

Image: Bytemarks, Aquaculture, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Fish are generally seen as more efficient in converting feed into food than land-based species, but, according to a new paper, this conclusion does not hold if the retention of protein and calories is accounted for using a different measure.

Image: Angus MacAskill, Japanese knotweed 2, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A perspective piece and an editorial have featured in the same edition of Biological Conservation (March 2018): both tackle a recent debate among conservation biologists as to whether at a local level biodiversity or species richness is changing and in what direction.

Image: Viva Granda Photography, Friendly Calf, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A new study shows that individual dairy calves have a tendency to be pessimistic or optimistic, with more fearful calves tending to be more pessimistic.

Image: NIAID, E. coli bacteria, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This review paper outlines some food safety issues in Europe from the perspective of the One Health approach, which views human, animal and environmental health as related and emphasises the importance of sharing information on animal and human health.


This report from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) considers the relationships between land use, land degradation and sustainable development goals.

This report, edited by the World Bank, reviews the literature to explore the sources and impacts of agricultural pollution in East Asia and propose solutions.

This short white paper, produced for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters, explores some issues around the production and consumption of meat.


Image: Maurice, British Houses of Parliament, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Brexit could affect food security and food prices in the UK, according to industry and academic voices.

Image:, chips-close-colors-crisps, Pexels, CC0 Creative Commons

The European Public Health Alliance points to five areas where food, drink and agriculture policies in Europe are expected to develop in the coming year.

Image: ponce_photography, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

The Chilean government is using marketing restrictions, packaging regulations and labelling rules to tackle obesity. Three-quarters of adults in the country, and over half of 6-year-old children, are overweight or obese.

Image: Apostolos, Cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A new technique has been devised to verify whether the cows producing ‘organic’ milk have actually spent the required 120 days a year grazing outdoors.

Image: torbakhopper, hula hoops galore : san francisco (2013), Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

A trial of a school anti-obesity programme in the West Midlands, UK, showed no improvements in body mass index, energy expenditure, body fat measurements or activity levels.

Image: Billy Hathorn, USDA Bldg., Washington, D.C. IMG 4787, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

A former lobbyist for the Snack Food Association and the Corn Refiners Association (whose members make high-fructose corn syrup) has been granted a waiver of conflict of interest rules, enabling her to advise the US Department of Agriculture on dietary guidelines.

Image: Alberto Cruz, Farms in Périgord, France, Flickr, Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication

The French government has announced that half of all food procured by its public sector must be organic or locally produced by 2022. The media coverage does not offer a definition of ‘local’ food.


Applicants are sought for a 12-month postdoctoral vacancy at the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, working with Dr Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network and Anna Taylor of the Food Foundation.

The responsibilities of the postholder will be to:

  1. Scope the development of appropriate and useful metrics for use by investors, civil society, government agencies or businesses that assess food industry progress in delivering healthy and sustainable diets, and
  2. Build a multi-stakeholder partnership to advance their uptake. You will lead the research for the project including interviewing key informants and building a network of stakeholders. You will prepare the final report for the project as well as interim written outputs.

Candidates should have:

  • A relevant PhD/DPhil (or have recently submitted), or a Master’s degree with subsequent demonstrably relevant work experience in a subject related to the food system and its links to healthy and sustainable diets and/or in a subject related to corporate social responsibility and the role of investors.
  • Experience of working with organisations outside the academic sector, including working in partnership or coalitions.
  • Excellent written communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to synthesise large amounts of information, write in plain English for a non-academic audience, present research and conduct meetings and interviews with key stakeholders are essential.

The deadline for applications is noon on 19 March. For more details, see here.

The Good Food Institute (GFI) supports and advises scientists, investors and entrepreneurs to promote and develop ‘clean meat’ (cultured meat) and plant-based alternatives to animal products.

They are hiring for several jobs, including:

An academic research advisor who will build a network of scientists and entrepreneurs working on clean meat and present talks at universities and major conferences. The ideal candidate should have a PhD or industry experience in biology, chemistry, engineering or a related natural science, as well as strong skills in public speaking, writing and networking. This job is only open to United States residents.

A strategic implementation specialist who will track and improve the effectiveness of GFI’s projects, liaise between departments and provide analytical support to the innovation department. The candidate should have both business and scientific knowledge, proven strategic planning and execution skills and exceptional writing, interpersonal and research skills. This job is only open to United States residents.

A regional manager for Europe who will organise the expansion of GFI’s work into Europe. Tasks will include mapping the legal landscape and key players in the field, developing the plant-based and clean meat community and developing strategies for success in Europe. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of the framework for starting companies in Europe, legal fluency, knowledge of European culture, exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to perform market research. This job is only open to those living in or willing to relocate to Europe.

For more details, other jobs and to apply, see here. The deadline for all three jobs listed above is 28 Feb 2018.

The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. They are hiring for a director of communications, corporate sustainability, who will lead and develop the communication strategy on TNC’s work to improve the private sector’s sustainability practices. The candidate should have a relevant bachelor’s degree and nine years of related work experience, including experience of managing teams and complex projects, developing and monitoring communications strategies and cultivating client relationships. Multiple languages or cross-cultural experience is preferred, as is expertise in food systems, global agricultural issues and corporate sustainability.

For more details and to apply, see the LinkedIn job posting here or search ‘Director of communications, corporate sustainability’ here. The application deadline is 14 March 2018.

Compassion in World Farming is an international farm animal welfare charity, campaigning through advocacy, lobbying for legislative change, and engagement with the global food industry. They are hiring for:

A European corporate account manager who will establish and develop partnerships with food brands and retailers throughout Europe. The candidate should be passionate about ethical, sustainable food, be an excellent communicator and have a strong understanding of the commercial sector. Knowledge of food sustainability, corporate responsibility or measurement and management of animal welfare in the supply chain are advantageous. The application deadline is 1 March 2018.

A head of media to increase public awareness of the organisation’s work and animal welfare issues. The candidate should have experience in a senior media role, the ability to lead a team and have excellent communication skills. There is no deadline for this role, but interviews will be held on a rolling basis.

For more details, more jobs and to apply, see here.

Too Good To Go is a mobile app which reduces food waste by making surplus food from cafes, restaurants and supermarkets available to users. They are hiring for a sales executive to develop connections with potential partners such as restaurants and cafes. The candidate should have excellent communication skills, be comfortable cold-calling and be driven to hit targets. Six months of sales experience are required, along with genuine enthusiasm for reducing food waste and the ability to persuade.

For more details and to apply, see here.

This funded PhD project at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, will examine interactions between the atmosphere and vegetation in three important agricultural areas in rapidly developing countries.

The student will develop and apply a model to simulate the effects of air pollutants on crops growing downwind of Beijing, Delhi and Lagos and estimate how poor air quality in these cities reduces regional harvests of major crops both now and under future potential conditions. The model will be a cutting-edge tool to explore possible mitigation strategies and aid policy interventions.

The supervisors for this project will be Dr K Ashworth and Dr O Wild. For more details, see here. Applications are due by 26 Feb 2018.

This PhD project aims to improve dietary omega-3 fatty acids through tilapia farmed on microalgae diets. The key outputs of the project will be:

  • Develop a low-cost, integrated algae-tilapia RAS to produce safe, omega-3 enriched tilapia for use in low income countries
  • Characterize, for the first time, the gut microbiome associated with high omega-3 assimilation in tilapia, and
  • Develop novel dietary biomarkers in tilapia that can be used non-destructively

For more information, see here and the website of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research. The supervisor will be Prof C Garcia de Leaniz. The closing date for applications is 28 Feb.

A funded PhD position is available at Rothamsted Research with the aim of identifying and testing soil health metrics (physical, chemical and biological) that can be used by farmers to quantify and monitor the health of their soils at scales appropriate to management.

Applicants should have or expect to graduate with a good BSc or Masters degree (First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree, or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject, have a strong background and be interested in agricultural or environmental sciences and have a good foundation in mathematics or statistics.

For more information, see here. The supervisors will be Dr A Milne. The closing date for applications is 2 March.

The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath is advertising a PhD project to investigate possibilities for producing energy and high-value products from biomass that also maintain the balance in the environment-food-energy-water nexus. The student will use detailed maps of existing land use and soil quality, water availability, quality and tolerance to contamination, and climate projections in terms of temperature and rainfalll, and research different processing facilities that convert the biomass to energy or other chemicals and you will build a comprehensive database of such technologies.

Successful applicants will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent).

For more information, see here. The supervisor will be Dr Sheila Samsatli. The application is deadline 16 March 2018.

The School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham is seeking a self-funded PhD student for a project on limiting fungal growth on crops and foods. This project will explore modifications to existing approaches, like preservation with weak acids, as well as novel synergistic combination treatments applicable in the field and post-harvest products. There will be a strong element of in vitro laboratory experiments, including molecular mode-of-action studies with yeast and fungal model organisms.

Applications are accepted all year round. The supervisors will be Prof Simon Avery and Dr Matthias Brock. For more information, see here.

This PhD position will explore the contribution of ecosystem services, particularly pollination and natural pest regulation, to food production and wider environmental quality. Understanding the values of ecosystem services, in both monetary and non-monetary terms, can be a useful tool to help support decision making by farmers, and the development of best practices and policies for more sustainable farming. The project is flexible to cover UK and overseas agro-ecosystems and can be tailored to the students interests.

Applications will only be considered from candidates who have already secured funding, and who hold (or expect to obtain) at least a 2:1 or 1st Class Honours Degree or Master's in a Biology/Ecology/Agriculture related subject.

For more information, see here. The supervisor will be Prof Simon Potts. Applications are accepted all year round.


This summit from Linking Environment and Farming, will host speakers from a variety of organisations to explore questions around the efficiency, transparency and impact of assurance schemes and their relationship to farmers and the environment.

For more details and to book a place, see here.

The 2018 City Food Policy Symposium, held at City University of London, will explore how gathering evidence of lived experiences of food challenges can inform more effective, equitable and empowering policy solutions.

The event will include presentations on a range of topics including obesity, food insecurity, the informal food economy and farming, and workshops to devise strategies to use people’s experiences to inform food policy.

The symposium is free, but places are limited. To book a place, see here.