'Food is essential for every human on the planet if they are to maintain a
healthy and active life. We can no longer take the availability of this
precious resource for granted, even in affluent Western societies; the
concept of Enough, For All, Forever is nowhere more applicable than in
relation to Food.'
Recent global developments such as climate change, emergence and re-emergence of serious crop and livestock diseases and increasing human population are impacting upon the provision and accessibility of food resources (food security). In addition, they threaten our ability to maintain healthy ecosystems that can provide for generations to come, with minimal negative impact on the environment (food sustainability).
At Newcastle University, we are focusing our attention on the issues of food security and sustainability, so as to secure the sustainable production of safe and nutritious food and help to shape national and international policy in areas including:
Our research focuses on the development and integration of technologies and strategies to increase efficiency of resource use in the provision of safe, nutritious and ethically produced food. Our own University farms provide an important test-bed for studies spanning the full 'plough to plate' continuum in both intensive and low-input crop and livestock production systems.
Within NIReS we are using a suite of molecular tools to produce agricultural commodities with novel/enhanced beneficial traits. We aim to better understand: (i) how crops respond to biotic (pests and pathogens) and abiotic (salinity, drought) stress with a view to enhancing tolerance of crops to these stresses, thereby increasing agricultural sustainability; (ii) mechanisms that underpin feeding behaviour, and metabolism and reproduction in vertebrates. Our research is underpinned by 'state of the art' molecular/profiling facilities and licenced controlled environment rooms.
Food and Nutrition:
We investigate the relationships between food and nutrition by focusing on the impacts of food quality and quantity on the health and wellbeing of humans and animals. This is addressed from the molecular to population level. A particular focus is in the societal aspects of food provision and availability, especially in the provision of balanced diets to vulnerable groups within the society. This area of work is supported by the superb nu-food facility
At Newcastle, we work on the environmental impacts of food production, from land and sea. We address the supply of water for agriculture, and the impact of agriculture on surface and groundwater, the supply of fertilizer materials and the impact of excess nutrient runoff or loss on waters and the atmosphere. We investigate the relationships between food production and biodiversity, and assess global-scale interactions between food production and the Earth system.
In 2012 we hosted a debate on Sustainable Intensification versus Low Input Farming with high profile speakers Jonathon Porritt and John Atkin. The event synopsis and films of the event are available on the event page.
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