Hearing 4

Fourth evidence hearing: Environment

Tuesday 27th January at the University of Sheffield, Winter Street, S3 7ND
Coffee from 10.30am. Lunch served after the hearing at 1pm.

Witnesses: Tim Benton (Professor of Population Ecology in the School of Biology at the University of Leeds and UK Champion for Global Food Security), Dale Southerton (Director of the Sustainable Consumption Unit at the University of Manchester), and Hilary Hamer (Director, Food4Hull)

Download Working Paper ¦ Download Event Write Up

The Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty is bringing together experts in food policy and related fields including health, the environment, and education to examine how poverty relates to the food system. The Commission will be sitting over the next year and will make recommendations towards the creation of a fair and sustainable food system. The Commission is chaired by Geoff Tansey.

The subject of this fourth hearing was Environment. This strand looked at environmental concerns from both a consumer and industry perspective. This included the impact of food production on biodiversity and the carbon intensity of the whole food system, including food waste at both individual and industrial levels. The Commissioners asked what the real price of cheap food is for the environment.

The hearing was accompanied by a visit to the Plant Production and Protection (P3) centre at the University of Sheffield. Commissioners saw and heard about the work being done there on sustainable solutions to problems facing the agricultural sector, including the blight of striga on maize and rice crops in Africa, Asia and Australia.

The hearing heard from:


Tim Benton is Professor of Population Ecology in the School of Biology at the University of Leeds. Tim will draw from his work in sustainable agriculture, looking at how we can produce enough food for the growing global population while coping with climate change, reducing carbon usage and not using more and more land. Tim is currently UK Champion for Global Food Security.

Download Tim’s presentation to the Commission


Dale Southerton is Director of the Sustainable Consumption Unit at the University of Manchester. Dale will draw from his work on modelling consumer behaviour and the implications for sustainability, including dietary preferences, and the environmental impact of ‘aspirational’ foods such as dairy, meat and internationally sourced produce.

Download Dale’s presentation to the Commission


Hilary Hamer is Director of Food4Hull. Hilary spoke about her experience with local food group Food4Hull, including the challenges of maintaining the rich biodiversity within Hull, engaging local people to engage with the food they are consuming, and working with the Local Authority in delivering sustainable food outcomes.

Download Hilary’s presentation to the Commission