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Food security group wins major funding for world-leading food and land research

Solutions need to be found urgently to ensure global food security
The challenge is immense, as it is essential that achieving future food security is not addressed in isolation from the other challenges facing mankind such as climate change, population increase, and declining non-renewable resources.

The Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops (SFSA-C), a collaborative venture between the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee, has been awarded prestigious funding to research the global links between food security and land use change.

The funding will allow the group to work with other global leaders to tackle one of society’s biggest challenges of the 21st century - feeding a global population of 9-10 billion people by 2050.

The project fought off stiff competition from proposals from around the world to be selected for funding under the Belmont Forum-FACCE JPI Food Security and Land Use Change Programme.

The project, entitled Delivering Food Security on Limited Land (DEVIL), is a €2 million project involving other world leading research teams from across the globe: USA (University of Minnesota), Australia (CSIRO), India (CRRI), South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand), Brazil (INPE), Switzerland (ETH) and France (INRA). It will be coordinated by Professor Pete Smith from the Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences in the College of Life Sciences and Medicine of the University of Aberdeen, and Professor Deb Roberts from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen. It involves central roles for a number of other SFSA-C partners, including colleagues from the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee.

“We are extremely pleased to be awarded this funding, which cements the collaboration between the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and University of Dundee within the Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops,” said Professor Pete Smith. “It will allow us to work with other global leaders in food security research to tackle one of the societal grand challenges of the 21st century; feeding a global population of 9-10 billion people by 2050.”

Professor Deb Roberts, of the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute, looks forward to the collaboration. “The challenge of delivering food security on limited land is so great that no single discipline has the tools to address it. That is why we have assembled this multi-disciplinary team, involving natural scientists, social scientists, nutritionists, economists and knowledge exchange experts from around the world.

“All partners are leaders in their fields, and we are delighted to have to opportunity to bring this expertise to bear one of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Dr Robin Matthews, research leader at the James Hutton Institute and co-ordinator of the Institute's input, agrees. “The challenge is immense, as it is essential that achieving future food security is not addressed in isolation from the other challenges facing mankind such as climate change, population increase and declining non-renewable resources.

“The interdisciplinary systems approach taken at the James Hutton Institute is well suited to making a significant contribution to the goals of the project.”

The project also has the support of the World Bank and CCAFS (the CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security). It will begin early in 2015 and will run for 48 months, and is expected to deliver outputs relevant for policy making at regional and global scales.

Notes to editors:

The Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops contributes solutions to the complex issues surrounding food security by combining scientific excellence with relevance. Our complementary expertise in food systems, plant, soil and environment research will deliver the knowledge required to sustain healthy diets whilst meeting the challenges on crop production imposed by changing climates and increasing pressures on land and natural resources. By linking our basic, strategic and applied science we will build the pipelines required to generate the knowledge, tools and products that will make a difference. Key to this translational approach are our existing and developing knowledge exchange networks and partnerships with stakeholders in the academic, industrial and policy communities. The Alliance provides a vibrant, interactive hub for collaboration and training opportunities, with the resources and state-of-the art facilities required to stimulate excellence and support career development in challenging areas of research and development with global significance. www.sfsa-crops.org

The University of Dundee is internationally recognised for its excellence in life sciences and medical research with particular expertise in cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience, skin diseases and plant sciences. The University has a top-rated medical school with research expanding from "the cell to the clinic to the community", while the College of Life Sciences is home to some of the world's most cited scientists and more than 900 research staff from 62 different countries. Dundee was voted best in Scotland for student experience in the 2014 Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. See www.dundee.ac.uk for further details.

The University of Aberdeen has a strong national and international reputation for academic strength. Aberdeen academics and alumni have pioneered many developments in medicine, science, social sciences and humanities, and five Nobel Laureates are associated with the University. In all research areas, the University engages with policy, industry and public audiences to encourage and inform public debate, and stimulate interdisciplinary, joined-up action to address the big issues and questions facing today’s global community. Aberdeen is named among the top 100 higher education institutions in the world for scientific performance in the 2013 Leiden rankings. See www.abdn.ac.uk for further details.

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Printed from /news/food-security-group-wins-major-funding-world-leading-food-and-land-research on 20/11/19 12:25:31 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.