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TETRAPARTITE 2008 Defra update. Bob Watson Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Current evidence spend. Future evidence spend.

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Tetrapartite 2008 defra update

TETRAPARTITE 2008Defra update

Bob Watson

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Future evidence spend
Future evidence spend

A more strategic management of Defra’s evidence (R&D – currently very weak in social sciences, monitoring, surveillance) that recognizes that each of the key areas of interest to Defra are inter-connected, i.e., climate change, natural environment and food and farming:

  • Enabling and fostering a more cohesive cross-Defra view of strategic evidence issues – must be placed within a UK – LWEC and international perspective

  • Ensuring investment in evidence informs and supports delivery of Defra strategy (policy formulation and implementation)

  • Determining effective funding/ management processes and governance

Selected topics
Selected topics

  • Agriculture and climate change

  • Food chain programme

  • Ecosystems approach

  • Bluetongue

  • Bovine TB

  • Living With Environmental Change

  • EU collaboration – ERA-NETs

  • UK Collaborative on Development Science

  • Foresight Programme: Tackling Obesities: Future Choices

  • Food Security and Biofuels

Agriculture and climate change adaptation and mitigation
Agriculture and climate change:adaptation and mitigation


  • Need to reduce the vulnerability and increase resilience to increased incidence of extreme events, greater climate variability, hotter and drier summers

  • Breed new varieties (temperature, drought, pest,

  • salinity tolerant traits)

  • Water harvesting

  • Agricultural practices, e.g., planting times

  • Insulate animal housing


  • Need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, especially methane and nitrous oxide

  • Now:

  • Non exceedance of crop N requirements

  • Appropriate timing/conditions for manure application

  • Increase livestock nutrient use efficiency

  • Anaerobic digestion technology for manures/slurries

  • Future:

  • Nitrification inhibitors

  • Feed supplements

Global temperature change (relative to pre-industrial)








Falling crop yields in many areas, particularly developing regions

Falling yields in many developed regions

Possible rising yields in some high latitude regions


Significant decreases in water availability in many areas, including Mediterranean and Southern Africa

Small glaciers disappear – water supplies threatened in several areas

Sea level rise threatens major cities


Extensive Damage to Coral Reefs

Rising number of species face extinction

Extreme Weather

Rising intensity of storms, forest fires, droughts, flooding and heat waves

Risk of Abrupt and Major Irreversible Changes

Increasing risk of dangerous feedbacks and abrupt, large-scale shifts in the climate system

Climate change impacts are now inevitable: adaptation is about how we respond – the less mitigation, the more adaptation is required

The risk of serious irreversible impacts increases strongly as temperatures increase

Stern Review (2006)



HadCM3 Medium-High (SRES A2)



Temperature anomaly (wrt 1961-90) °C

Hadley Centre

Anticipated Increase in UK Summer Temperatures: By the 2040s, 2003 will be “normal” - the climate is also expected to be much wetter in the winter and drier in the summer

Reducing the global environmental impact of UK food production/ consumption

Measuring GHG emissions (embodied) from food

British Standards Institute methodology

Pre farm gate to manufacturing Distribution and retailing Food preparation and consumption

Local/regional vs imported foods

Assessing environmental impact of national vs imported

7 commodities

GHGs and ecosystem services

Influencing consumers re food purchasing and waste

Minimize waste

Food Chain Programme – “Managing the environmental sustainability of UK food consumption and production”

Ecosystems approach

production/ consumptionTo embed an ecosystems approach to conserving, managing and enhancing the natural environment across policy-making and delivery”

Identifying opportunities for mainstreaming an ecosystems approach

Using case studies that demonstrate the benefits of taking an ecosystems approach

Developing ways of valuing ecosystem services

Developing a robust evidence base

Ecosystems approach

Ma framework

Human production/ consumption








MA Framework

  • Indirect Drivers of Change

  • Demographic

  • Economic (globalization, trade, market and policy framework)

  • Sociopolitical (governance and institutional framework)

  • Science and Technology

  • Cultural and Religious

  • Human Well-being and

  • Poverty Reduction

  • Basic material for a good life

  • Health

  • Good Social Relations

  • Security

  • Freedom of choice and action

  • Direct Drivers of Change

  • Changes in land use

  • Species introduction or removal

  • Technology adaptation and use

  • External inputs (e.g., irrigation)

  • Resource consumption

  • Climate change

  • Natural physical and biological drivers (e.g., volcanoes)

Bluetongue outbreak
Bluetongue outbreak production/ consumption

  • Wind plume of infected midges on 4-5 August 2007 into East Anglia

  • UK declared BTV infected

  • 22 September 2007

  • 130 infected premises at 22 May 2008

Government response
Government response production/ consumption


  • Contingency plans implemented

  • Communication on bluetongue and its effects

  • Movement restrictions to control spread

  • Monitoring, scanning and targeted surveillance of bluetongue spread and midge activity

  • Testing all imported ruminants for bluetongue

Next steps

  • Control by vaccination

  • Eradication?

  • Research and disease response needs will continue

Research and diagnosis of bluetongue
Research and diagnosis of Bluetongue production/ consumption

Defra research projects

Diagnostic laboratory for BTV

Research focus:

  • Epidemiology of bluetongue

    • Including predictive modelling of BTV, vaccination studies

  • Midge characteristics and spread of the vectors

  • Molecular characterisation of the BTV genome

    • Diagnostic methods and molecular epidemiology studies

  • Questions on the role of “global warming”

    - Further incursions and potential for establishment in high latitudes

    - Incursion of other vector-borne disease

Bovine tb
Bovine TB production/ consumption

  • Bovine TB is a serious issue in several parts of UK

  • Issue is how to deal with the spread – scientific, economic and social issues

    • Animal movement

    • Cull Badgers

    • Vaccination

      • Injectable badger vaccine – 2010 – very costly

      • Oral badger vaccine - 2014

      • Injectable cattle vaccine – 2015, but would require a DIVA test and change in EU policy

    • Culling can reduce the incidence of bovine TB, but issues of scale

      • Greater than 300 sq kms, 80% coverage, longer than 4 years, soft or hard boundaries

Living with environmental change
Living With Environmental Change production/ consumption

Multi-Government Department – Multi-Research Council

£1 billion over 10 years

Six objectives

  • Climate Change

  • Ecosystems and Human Well-Being

  • Development (Water and Food)

  • Plant, Animal and Human Health)

  • Infrastructure and Transportation

  • Behaviour and Ideals

Eu collaboration era nets
EU Collaboration: ERA-Nets production/ consumption

“Developing and strengthening the coordination of public research programmes carried out at national or at regional level”

  • Defra participation inFP6 ERA-Nets includes:

  • BiodivERsA – €20m joint research call to tackle biodiversity decline in Europe

  • EUPHRESCO- €1m joint calls on plant health research

  • FP7 ERA-Net

  • EMIDA – New EU network to coordinate research on emerging and major infectious diseases of livestock

Uk collaborative on development science
UK Collaborative on Development Science production/ consumption

“Funders and scientists working together to make a difference to the lives of the World’s poorest people”

Three key areas of work already underway:

  • Improving relevance of climate change research to developing countries by mapping and characterising all UK initiatives

  • Foresight and horizon scanning to highlight developing country S&T needs

  • Reviewing UK research capacity to facilitate effective collaboration with developing countries

Uk foresight programme tackling obesities future choices
UK Foresight Programme production/ consumption“Tackling Obesities: Future Choices”

Why a project on obesity
Why a project on obesity? production/ consumption





Data shown

for England and Scotland


Source: IOTF

Policy implications
Policy implications production/ consumption

Key messages

  • Most adults in the UK are already overweight. Modern living insures every generation is heavier than the last – “Passive Obesity”

  • By 2050 60% of men and 50% of women could be clinically obese. Without action, the costs of overweight and obesity will rise to £49.9 billion p.a.

  • The obesity epidemic cannot be prevented by individual action alone and demands a societal approach

  • Tackling obesity requires far greater change than anything tried so far, and at multiple levels; personal, family, community and population

  • Preventing obesity is a societal challenge, similar to climate change. It requires partnership between government, science, business, and civil society

The government response to the threat of obesity
The government response to the threat of obesity production/ consumption

  • Revised obesity target to reflect a broader ambition to achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Established dedicated Obesity Unit within government reporting to a cross-departmental Ministerial Group and Cabinet Committee

  • Obesity Unit supported by external Expert Advisory Group, Obesity Observatory and a Delivery Group

  • Plans to establish a National Partnership with stakeholders

  • Cross-government obesity strategy - Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives informed by the Foresight report

Policy options

(i) Foresight ‘promising’ areas production/ consumption

Investment in early life interventions

Controlling the availability of and exposure to obesogenic foodand drink

Increased walkability/ cyclability of the built environment

Increasing responsibility of organisations for health of employees

Targeting health interventions for those at high risk

(ii) New Obesity Strategy

Children: health, weight and growth

Promoting healthier food choices

Building physical activity into our lives

Creating incentives for better health

Personalised advice and support

Policy options

Future foresight studies
Future Foresight Studies production/ consumption

  • Land Use

  • Food and Farming (UK and Global)

  • Migration

    The issue of water will be central to food and farming and migration

Food security
Food Security production/ consumption

Drivers of the recent increase in food prices

  • Increased demand from rapidly developing countries, e.g., China

  • Poor harvests due to variable weather - possibly related to human-induced climate change

  • Increased use of biofuels, especially maize in the US

  • High energy prices, hence fertilizer prices

  • Export bans from some large exporting countries

  • Speculation on the commodity markets

    Key question is whether this is a blip or a harbinger of the future

Biofuels production/ consumption

  • Two major sources of biofuels

    • Bioethanol from sugar and maize

    • Biodiesel from palm oil, soy and rapeseed

  • Rarely economic - normally heavily subsidized

  • Serious questions regarding environmental sustainability

    • Greenhouse gas emissions - direct and indirect emissions

    • Loss of biodiversity, soil and water degradation

  • Serious Questions regarding social sustainability

    • Food price increases

    • Involuntary displacement of small-scale farmers by large-scale plantations