Food Science

Food Science - Best taken with a pinch of salt makes a lot of telling points about why the politics of food science needs to change. From Mussolini appealing to the medical profession to promote a high carb diet, to the US 'dietary fat' guidelines, on to the scientific drive to eliminate bacteria, it shows that "scientific advice’ is often not so much science as a distorted misrepresentation of the facts". He criticises those that believe "scientific advice is an unalloyed good, a kind of philosopher’s stone that turns policy to gold", when they should reflect disputes about 'facts' and governments buying what fits their ideological framework. By the same author, I think therefore I eat says"The worst thing about food science, the elephant in the room, is that it's not just the opinions that are changing—but the 'facts' themselves shift too."
Science & Technology (S&T) Committee Feb 22 2018 The Minister explained that the government wants to provide as much reassurance as possible to UK applicants bidding for EU funding, reiterating that UK organisations will be able to lead projects and bid for Horizon 2020 funding until the end of the programme in December 2020 - if an agreement with the EU is reached in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations. Anyway HMT will underwrite ongoing projects and organisations should continue bidding for EU funds. He said the UK plans to have a deep and ambitious S&T agreement with the EU after Brexit. He also mentioned new bilateral S&T agreements with the USA and Canada, and a joint strategy to boost S&T cooperation with China, which ensure that UK scientists are connected globally. But the EU Framework programme is much more than just funds and there were "doubts about the UK scientific advisory mechanism's ability to advise on matters such as air quality, energy policy, transport, immigration, criminal justice, broadcasting, health, agriculture, etc."
S&T Committee call for 'early deal for science and research' (Mar 2018), saying an early deal would be a 'win-win' but a "protracted delay would have unfortunate effects, and it cannot be taken for granted that the UK will retain its leadership position in science and innovation "
Multi-million pound funding for research into crop resilience for 4 research organisations to "focus on boosting productivity for pulses, wheat, leafy vegetables and oilseed rape "

Sustainability

Agro-ecology was a key plank of EU policy. What will happen to that? The British Ecological Society is Finding the Common Ground saying "There should be an agro-ecological approach to food production including biodiversity conservation. This should maintain land that is productive, rich in wildlife, culturally rich and accessible for the enjoyment of wider society without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. "

Obesity

The UK is the fattest country in the EU. We will still be the fattest country in Europe following Brexit. Why? And What more should we do? Perhaps what others in the EU are already doing?

Pesticides

Pesticide authorisation of active ingredients will become within our remit as part of the control of our borders. Can the Expert Committee on Pesticides take on that role?

GMOs

The control of GMOs will come to the UK when we Brexit and is bound to stir up debate. When I was doing a bit of campaigning to stop one research station closure, some friend asked ‘do they do GM?’ as if this was a cross of disapproval. GM was a sort of proxy for capitalism (but called ‘industrialism’), but missing what market capitalism was really doing to our food and farm system.

Science in Society

What is the role of science in any food and farm plans? We hear about antibiotics, hormones, drones, robots, GM, pesticides. Some believe science is the answer, others are concerned. This debate was had in the last century between the famous authors H.G. Wells and George Orwell but seems as relevant today: "Confronting challenges such as climate change and feeding the 2 billion people who lack a reliable source of food, it might be natural to regard science as humanity’s only hope. But expecting from science what it cannot deliver is just as hazardous as failing to acknowledge its great potential."

March for Science

In the book I made the case for better evidence to underpin decisions, and that science was going to become even more contested than in past. So we have to learn what to look for. The March for Science has set about that. And here are some of the things to look out for in Science Bullshit.
I knew from early age that while ‘the test tube was filled’, somebody had to do it..ie ‘I' filled the test tube. Just changing the verb from active to objective does not mean you are objective. Nor does just staring at the numbers, ignoring all else, mean you are objective. Throughout the book, I make clear what my position is, and then shine that view on events. I believe that highlights the issues – others can agree or not, so that we end up with a more objective result.
Most scientists have to work for capital. I said that I didn’t want to become a white coated imperialist. Long gone are the days when they could afford to look after themselves, like Darwin could. The very nature of present day science usually requires expensive equipment. Only capital can afford to employ most scientists. Us agricultural scientists have less choice in my day. Then there was a good chance of being employed in the public sector. But with land based science reduced to a quarter since then, much fewer opportunities
I decided to be a scientific worker for ‘labour’, just have many scientists before me - witness Haldane. I have never regretted doing so, despite lots of disapproval and curiousness. I also realised that there is much to analyse in the following four subjects, all important to better food and farm systems...click each heading to take you to separate pages.

The photo at the top of the page is 'my plot' that was set up to test the effects of herbicides on soil animals as part of my PhD