Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN food sustainability newsletter

The FCRN’s weekly newsletter on food sustainability, Fodder, rounds up the latest journal papers, reports, books, jobs, events and more. Sign up to receive it here.

Network updates

From the FCRN: 9 July 2020

RIP the FCRN, long live Table

In case you missed it, our director Tara Garnett has written a blog post to introduce Table, a new collaboration between the University of Oxford, Wageningen University and Research and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, which will launch later this year, and which builds on and ultimately replaces the FCRN. 

Read about Table here.

In Fodder this week

Two reports (here and here) by Feedback explore the impacts of the Scottish farmed salmon sector while a paper finds that alternative fish feeds could reduce aquaculture’s demand for forage fish; Trase reports that deforestation in some commodity supply chains is heavily concentrated in a small fraction of production regions; and plans to heat greenhouses with waste heat from water treatment plans could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Google Group recently

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Featured FCRN publication

The role of animals in food systems, and the degree to which their needs should be accounted for as compared to humans, are ethical issues about which there is both concern and disagreement. 

This building block, written by the FCRN in 2017, explains what is meant by the concept of animal welfare.

Read the full building block What is animal welfare? here.


Research library

Image: Couleur, Glass milk white cow’s, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This paper from the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) programme examines the narratives that have - at different times and places - surrounded three scenarios about the future of milk and dairy: “more milk”, “better milk” and “less milk”. 

Image: moritz320, Boats Fisherman Fishing Boat, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This research shows that global replacement of fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture feed with alternative feeds (including algae, bacteria, yeast and insects) could reduce aquaculture’s demand for forage fish while - depending on the specific mix of alternative feeds - maintaining feed efficiency and levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the farmed fish.

Image: Free-Photos, Wood Logs Lumber, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This paper examines the factors that link ecosystem services and the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It also discusses policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report from UK food waste NGO Feedback uses the Scottish salmon aquaculture sector as an example to argue that feeding wild fish to farmed salmon is an inefficient and environmentally damaging way of providing micronutrients to humans. It suggests that replacing some farmed salmon consumption with small wild-caught fish and farmed mussels could provide the same level of micronutrients while protecting fish stocks.

This report from UK food waste NGO Feedback argues that sustainability certification of wild-caught forage fish as feed for Scottish salmon aquaculture companies could in fact be driving overfishing.

US think tank The Breakthrough Institute has published a policy brief on how new federal funding for agricultural research and development in the United States could protect and generate tens of thousands of jobs while also helping roughly halve US agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Trase - a partnership between the Stockholm Environment Institute and Global Canopy - has published its 2020 yearbook, which reviews deforestation in supply chains for commodities such as soy, beef, chicken and palm oil and examines the effectiveness of zero-deforestation commitments.

This book uses nine case studies to argue that promoting home-cooked meals as a solution to social and environmental food system problems risks placing a disproportionate burden on individual families, in particular mothers.

This piece, part of the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) programme’s Controversies series, explores the arguments and evidence around the environmental impacts of intensive feedlot systems versus extensive grazing systems.

Image: davehan2016, Tomato, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This BBC story looks at a new initiative to heat greenhouses in East Anglia using waste heat from nearby water treatment plants. According to the story, the technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating greenhouses as well as reduce reliance on imported produce.


UK NGO the Food Foundation is hiring a Support Officer to manage the running of workshops and site visits in England as part of the new Peas Please Veg Advocate Programme.

Candidates should have experience of working with community groups, running workshops and supporting volunteers for at least 2 years.

The position will be part time (2 days a week) and could be home-based. Subject to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, the role will involve travelling extensively within England.

Read more here. The deadline is 10 July 2020.


UK NGO Sustain is hiring a Communications and Events Coordinator for its Food Power programme, which aims to strengthen local communities’ ability to reduce food poverty through solutions developed by them with the support of their peers from across the UK.

Candidates should be experienced communicators with fantastic team working skills who shares Sustain’s commitment to reducing food poverty in the UK. 

Read more here. The deadline is 16 July 2020.


The UK Food Standards Agency has two paid internship vacancies to assist in scoping research projects, undertake information gathering and analysis activities and produce reports. 

Candidates should be in the process of obtaining or hold one of the following qualifications:

  • A CIEH accredited Environmental Health qualification that includes food hygiene and/or food standards, including a degree in Environmental Health
  • A CTSI accredited qualification that includes food standards or agriculture/animal feed

Read more here. The application deadline is 19 July 2020.


UK charity the Soil Association is hiring a Programme Officer for its Food for Life Get Togethers. The role will involve the creation and maintenance of consistent project management and administrative processes and for facilitating effective connections, organisation and information flows across this multi-partner, multi-faceted programme.

Candidates should be well-organised and have the ability to manage multiple tasks.

Read more here. The deadline is 20 July 2020.


The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management is calling for conference papers for its 2020 virtual conference on the challenges in reconciling the differing land use objectives in Scotland. 

The conference will cover:

  • Land use change in the uplands - conflicting demands and potential solutions
  • Linear infrastructure projects challenges and effectiveness of mitigation and sensitive design.

Read more here. The deadline is 31 July 2020.


This online course, developed by EIT Food, will explore the management and safeguarding of intellectual property, including patents and trademarks, in the food industry.

Read more here. The course is available from 6 July 2020 until 25 October 2020.


This webinar on 15 July 2020, organised by the European Association of Agricultural Economists, will bring together a multidisciplinary group of speakers from agronomy, economics, climate research, and plant science to shed light on weather risks to agriculture from different perspectives.

Read more here

At this online talk on 15 July 2020, organised by the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, Johanna Ralston (CEO of the World Obesity Federation) will look at narratives of obesity and propose a better, more accurate story that places people at the centre, using words and images that are translatable across cultures and languages.

Read more here

UK food waste NGO Feedback is holding a webinar on 16 July 2020 to discuss findings from its recent reports (here and here) on Scottish aquaculture. The report found that if we adopted a more diverse fish diet, with less farmed salmon and a wider variety of small, oily fish such as herring and sardines, we could access the same level of micronutrients while leave nearly 60% of the fish caught for Scottish salmon feed in the sea. 

Read more here

From July to December 2020, SDSN Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems,  Foresight4Food, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Agriculture Policy Research in Africa Programme will host the eDialogue ‘What future for small-scale farming? Inclusive transformation in challenging times’. 

This fully online eDialogue will include a series of on-line discussions, interviews and virtual workshops, backed by blogs, vlogs, an e-discussion group and side-events. A virtual wrap-up workshop will be held at the end of November.

You can register here to register for the eDialogue. For more information, see the event page.   

The first live session will be held on 16 July 2020: Setting the scene - Trends, challenges and opportunities.