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New era for Food Ethics Council

17/10/16
Liz Barling
New Chair of the Board, and new three year programme of work for the Food Ethics Council.
New era for Food Ethics Council

The Food Ethics Council is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor David Pink as the new Chair of our Board. David takes over from Helen Browning OBE, who is standing down after 14 years.

Helen, who is an organic farmer and the Chief Executive of the Soil Association, has successfully steered the Food Ethics Council over many years with her sound judgement, encyclopaedic knowledge of all things food and farming, and her good humour. We are pleased that she will remain a member of the Food Ethics Council.

David, Emeritus Professor of Crop Improvement at Harper Adams University, is an expert in plant breeding and crop genetics with over 35 years’ experience of breeding research. He is a member of the BBSRC horticulture and potato initiative, a member of the advisory board of LEAF and a member of the advisory board for the Warwick Vegetable Genetic resources unit.

The Board of the Food Ethics Council recently decided to create an innovative six-month rotation for the post of Chair of Trustees. Hence, David will be in post for six months before handing over to his successor. This will allow us - as a small organisation where our Council members are very involved - to make the most of the skills and experience of our Board members. We will trial this for an initial period of 18 months, before reporting on benefits and challenges of this new approach, in the hope that there may be lessons from this model for other charities.

David Pink said:

“I am very much looking forward to taking over as Chair of the Food Ethics Council, an organisation whose role of holding governments and business to account over the ethics of food and farming is very important. The Board would like to thank Helen Browning being such a fantastic and inspiring Chair. She will be a very hard act to follow!”

David takes over at an exciting moment in the organisation’s journey, with the Food Ethics Council having just been awarded a three-year grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to develop a Food Realities Index and a Food Policy Barometer.

This work will be an essential reality check for policy makers, civil society organisations and food businesses as the UK navigates its way through the messy divorce that is Brexit. The Index will provide a quantified assessment of how well the UK performs on key issues related to food and farming relative to other OECD countries. The Barometer will evaluate selected key UK food and farming policies (and policy ideas) to assess whether they are successful or failing.  

These powerful tools will create a unique platform to focus and accelerate civil society advocacy on fair, sustainable food - and hold to account, primarily the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, but also business. It is only through such scrutiny and constructive pressure that the UK will be able to play its part in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly ending hunger and protecting ecosystems.

Dan Crossley, Executive Director of the Food Ethics Council said:

“I’d like to thank Helen on behalf of the Food Ethics Council for all she’s done for the organisation over many years. It has been a real privilege working with her. I’m very pleased to be welcoming David to the Chair, and look forward to working with him more closely over the coming months.

“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, who are doing so much to support the shift to sustainable food systems.

“Our new programme of work signals a new era for the Food Ethics Council. It has never been more important – in these uncertain times – to shine an ethical spotlight on our nation’s food and farming policies.

“Health and wellbeing, social justice, the environment and animal welfare are all affected by food policies. As the government unravels our relationship with the EU, it must be held to account in these areas that are vital to human and planetary health.”

The Food Ethics Council is a registered Charity whose aim is to create a food system that is fair and healthy for people, animals and the environment.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

1.     For more information about the Food Ethics Council please visit our website www.foodethicscouncil.org

2.     The Food Ethics Council’s 16 Council members are all experts in their fields, ranging from organic farmers to food & farming industry insiders; from philosophers to plant geneticists. A full list of our members is available here.

3.     Emeritus Professor David Pink is an expert in plant breeding and crop genetics with over 35 years’ experience of breeding research. Until September 2010, he led the crop improvement group at Warwick Horticulture Research International (‘HRI’) in multidisciplinary research in field vegetables, narcissus and oil seed rape, funded by Defra, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and breeding companies. He is Emeritus Professor of Crop Improvement at Harper Adams University. David's main interest is the development of tools and resources to facilitate improvement of important quantitative traits utilising natural variation found in gene bank collections. His work is targeted at UK horticulture but he has also worked with small holders in East Africa. Recently, David has worked with social scientists investigating people’s attitude to their food. He is a member of the BBSRC horticulture and potato initiative and the Defra-funded Vegetable Genetic Improvement network (VeGIN), a member of the advisory board of LEAF and a member of the advisory board for the Warwick Vegetable Genetic resources unit.

4.     Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. They do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.  The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK.  They make grants of £30 - £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment, social change and food. They also commit up to £35 million in social investments in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit. www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk