The UK’s main public funders of food-related research and training work together through the Global Food Security (GFS) programme to meet the challenge of sustaining the world’s growing population in the context of climate change and declining resources. The partners in this programme include Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
GFS commissioned OPM to recruit and manage a panel of 600 members of the public, from six locations around the UK, to take part in online and face-to-face engagement activities exploring different aspects of food security research. Over the course of a year, distinct projects focused on topics including urban agriculture, the food system, Buying British and insects used as animal feed. The online platform provided information in a range of different formats, including video, animation and infographic, and channels for panel members to interact with each other, with specialists and with the project team. The smaller projects used a range of online methods enabling rapid feedback, whilst on larger projects, face-to-face workshops were held in addition to online activities.
GFS was explicit about the experimental nature of the approach used in the project. It aimed to trial the online panel method (see the Learning Report), and to open up and strengthen its decision-making processes, using the findings from the panel to inform the future direction of publicly funded food security-related research in the UK.
Cross-cutting themes emerging from all of the projects included concerns about animal welfare; anger at the level of food waste; the importance of food education; a preference for “natural” foods, and; concerns about the possible environmental impacts of addressing food security.
This dialogue was delivered by OPM and Dialogue By Design. It was evaluated by 3KQ.