Scientific advice for a sustainable agri-food system: post-Brexit challenges for evidence-informed policymaking

Grantham Scholar George Asiamah’s project seeks to assess the capacity and outlook of UK’s scientific advisory system policy after Brexit.

The project

Globally, agriculture and the agri-food sector are entangled with complex issues and a range of SDGs. These issues include food security (SDG 2), food safety (SDG 3), environmental protection (SDG 13, 14 & 15), biodiversity conservation (SDG 14 & 15) as well as climate change mitigation (SDG 13).

Growing complexity in the sector has fuelled calls to base policy interventions on scientific evidence so as to ensure optimum policy outcome. In order to be successful, this requires a strong and effective advisory system. Further, this system must be sophisticated enough to provide usable evidence at every stage of the policy-making process.

In the UK, the agri-food sector has long operated within the institutional and regulatory framework of the European Union (EU). For instance, since its inception in the 1960s the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has controlled almost all major agri-food related activities. This ranges from land use to agronomic practice, through to nutritional quality, food safety, and trade. Further, key institutions and agencies – e.g. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission – have served as major sources of expertise in the development of agri-food policies and regulations.

Brexit

Now that the UK is leaving the EU, its access to this expertise may be restricted. Further, the current advisory system – which has been harmonised with the EU advisory framework for decades – will be affected. Does the UK have the capacity to produce credible and usable scientific advice to support the development of a sustainable agri-food sector? More importantly, will there be the political will to organise expertise to support agri-food policy-making, amidst the myriad political and economic challenges?

As a result, this project seeks to assess the capacity and outlook of UK’s scientific advisory system policy after Brexit. As such, the study will take a historical analysis of the interrelationship between the scientific advisory system in the UK and the EU – from sub-national to national and EU level – and agri-food policy-making.

In order to assess the current perspective of policymakers and stakeholders in the agri-food sector on the use of scientific evidence, a semi-structured interview will be conducted. Finally, a framework will be developed to strengthen UK’s science advisory system to support the development of viable agri-food policy that will meet the present sustainability challenges in the sector (SDG 1, 2, 3, 13, 14 & 15) after Brexit.

Outreach

We interviewed George about his research and how he came to be in sustainability. In the interview George gives a brilliantly clear explanation of the main issues affecting the agri-food sector because of Brexit. Read: Brexit, Food & Science: Interview with George Asiamah.

George attended the INGSA conference in Japan in 2018. In this blog George reflects on what came out of the conference. And he summarises how it can help us navigate evidence in a post-truth world. Read: Scientific Advice And The SDGs In A Post-truth World: INGSA 2018 by George Asiamah.

George Asiamah’s publications

George has written a chapter on pro-poor development for the prestigious Springer publishing house. Find out about the chapter – and a link to read it for free – here.

Social media

You can find George on Facebook.
Or you can follow him on Twitter.
Or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Supervisor

Co-Supervisors

Professor Charlotte Burns

Department of Politics and International Relations