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Food Ethics Council, December 2019 newsletter
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What a year! On the global stage, there have been Amazon fires, a US President being impeached, record temperatures in Australia, the rise of Extinction Rebellion, climate strikes, an epidemic of African Swine Fever in pigs in China, growing investor interest in the sustainability of agri-food companies, and much more... Closer to home, the UK has a new government with a strong majority, which means Brexit (no matter your view on it) is likely to move forward in 2020.

We at the Food Ethics Council have worked hard - with your support - to challenge accepted ways of thinking, reframe debates, break down polarisation and inspire people to change our food systems for the better. We hope you'll agree we've made a valuable contribution, but we're not pretending that it's job done - far from it! The next two or three years are a critical time and we want you to join us in accelerating the shift to food systems that are fair and healthy for people, animals and the planet. We mustn't "dither", but we also mustn't 'rashly rush'. Perhaps what we need is bold but considered acceleration... We believe that an ambitious National Food Strategy can be an important part of that.

Read on to find out what we're up to at the Oxford Farming conferences, the importance of taking an internationalist perspective, and ways you can get involved with our work in 2020.

Thank you for your support this year. We'll reflect more on 2019 and what 2020 brings in our next newsletter. For now, we wish you an enjoyable break over the festive period - and here's to a peaceful and purposeful year ahead.

Season's greetings!

Dan and the Food Ethics Council team

Join us in Oxford to kickstart 2020

Take part in our sessions at the Oxford Real Farming Conference

For all those that will be in Oxford in early January for the farming conferences, please join us: 
  • At the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) for our 'Gearing up for agroecology' session, where we'll explore how we can transform publicly funded research and innovation for the public good. It will be chaired by Council member Patrick Mulvany and will take place at 2.30pm on 8th Jan. If you're interested in that topic, the subsequent session (not organised by us) on farmer-led innovation and research for agroecology might be of interest too.
  • At ORFC for 'Only the best', we'll be diving into what 'best impact' livestock, meat and dairy look like. This session takes place at 9.00am on 9th Jan and will feature Council members Helen Browning and Pete Ritchie, as well as our Exec Director, Dan Crossley.
  • For other sessions our staff and Council members are taking part in at ORFC - Chloe Donovan is chairing a session on a young people's assembly on the National Food Strategy for England, which also features our very own Anna Cura on the panel (alongside Henry Dimbleby of Food Strategy fame); Dee Woods os speaking at 'a Food Strategy for the UK' and 'Putting social justice at the heart of your farm'; our Chair Jo Lewis hosts 'Ten years to agroecology'; Pete Ritchie is running 'Working towards COP26 in Glasgow' ...... 
  • At the Oxford Farming Conference over the road, where speakers will include Helen Browning OBE, organic farmer, Chief Executive of the Soil Association and member of the Food Ethics Council.
[Photo credit: By Kaihsu at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,]

Taking an internationalist perspective...

It's vital that we (continue to) look outwards and learn from others

At a time when it's easy to get caught up in the 'Westminster bubble' and/ or to think of the UK as an island, we'd argue it's more important than ever to both act locally and think globally. On the latter of these, we at the Food Ethics Council are keen to encourage an internationalist, outward-looking perspective.

We've recently joined the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and its new Food Programme, which we're keen to shape, because we think it's time for everyone in the UK to up the pace in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Council member Patrick Mulvany was in Rome recently for a meeting of the UN's International Seed Treaty's Governing body, as seeds are the lifeblood of our food system. The title of his blog, 'Fiddling in Rome', gives a sense of what he thought of proceedings.

In 2020, we'll be continuing our tradition of looking at one country case study in our Business Forum (having previously looked at France and Denmark). We'll explore what lessons we can learn from the Netherlands - and it therefore felt timely for us to have a guest blog from Dr Justa Hopma on lessons we can learn from recent Dutch farmer protests.

Read about upping the pace on the SDGs in the UK
Read Patrick Mulvany's reflections on International Seed Treaty
Read a guest blog on lessons from Dutch farmer protests

Help us press the accelerator - carefully...

Join us in taking bolder actions together in 2020

More and more people are recognising the triple whammy of the climate, nature and obesity crises (to name just three of the emergencies we're facing) - and the growing recognition is very welcome. What we must avoid though is being paralysed by the scale of the task OR rashly rushing to judgement. Surely more than ever we need to press the accelerator, but in a considered way. In so doing, we can develop 'in the round' views on how particular courses of action are likely to impact people, the environment, animals and future generations.

In 2020, there are lots of ways you can get involved in our work, including:

  • Participate in our events - Check out our events page here. We're still developing the events programme, so it will be updated regularly. Please do share ideas - including what emerging food policy idea should we test at our next Food Policy on Trial? Please share suggestions on Twitter using the hashtag #FoodPolicyOnTrial. We'd love to see you at some of our events in 2020!
  • Be part of the growing food citizenship movement - sign up here to our separate Food Citizenship newsletter to get involved in the shift from consumerist to food citizenship mindset.
  • Take part in our major projects kicking off in 2020 - Livestock Transition Dialogues and Reframing Poverty. Further details to follow in the new year, but if you're interested in learning more, get in contact with Dan ( or Anna (
  • Make a donation to support our work - if you're in a position to financially support our work and believe in our mission, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact Dan via
  • Join the conversation on social media - we're mostly on Twitter (@foodethicsnews), so please join in the discussions. We'll be thinking again about our social media next year, so keep an eye out for different ways to interact in 2020.
Take part in our events in 2020

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