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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Interrelationships in Food Systems (PGGE11166)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryFood security has been defined as ¿when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life¿
(World Food Summit Plan of Action, Rome, 1996, cited in Stamoulis and Zezza, 2003, p7). Increasing and maintaining levels of food security is one of the primary policy goals of governments both in developed and developing countries. However, food security policies can have significant wider impacts. This module will look at some key trends in food production and consumption, and examine some of the interrelationships between food security and other policy goals (such as environmental protection).
Course description Wk Topic
1 Introduction to module and module requirements.
Review of key concepts.
2 Methods 1: Life-cycle analysis applied to food systems

3 Fisheries, aquaculture and food security
Methods 2: Cost-benefit analysis applied to marine ecosystem services
4 The global dairy industry: trend, drivers and challenges
Veterinary medicines, animal health and food security
5 Food waste and food security: overview.
Case study: Developing and implementing food waste reduction policies in Scotland
6 --Innovative Learning Week--
7 Food security and climate change
Sustainable Diets: Optimising diets for nutrition and environmental impact
8 Practical: applying life-cycle analysis to livestock products - measuring GHG emissions and efficiency across the supply chain.
9 Discussion of ¿The Last Hunger Season¿ and the role of smallholder farming in food security
10 Environment, security and global governance
11 Module review
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  60
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment consists of two essays. The first essay is set early in the course in order that feedback can be provided before essay 2 is undertaken.
Length % of final mark

Essay 1 1500 30%
Essay 2 2500 70%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An understanding of what the unintended (or unstated) consequences of food security initiatives might be, and how these might be managed.
  2. An understanding of the potential impact of non-food security policies and processes on food security.
  3. An awareness of some key analytical methods for assessing interactions between policies.
  4. An analytical approach to framing and investigating policy questions
Reading List
Week 1: Introduction and review of key concepts

Trends in food security and methods for measuring FS.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World raises awareness about global hunger issues, discusses underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition and monitors progress towards hunger reduction targets established at the 1996 World Food Summit and the Millennium Summit.
Revised method Cafiero (2012)

World food situation: supply, demand and prices

OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2014-2023
Alexandratos, N. and J. Bruinsma. 2012. World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision. ESA Working paper No. 12-03. Rome, FAO.
General comment and analysis
Godfray et al. (2010)
The Economist Special report: Feeding the world Feb 24th 2011
Krebs (2013) Chapter 5 ¿Feeding the nine billion¿

Week 2: Life cycle analysis (LCA) and food production

LCA principles
General principles of LCA ¿ Curran (2006)
Principles of LCA of GHG emissions ¿ BSI (2011)
Principles of LCA of GHG emissions: aquaculture ¿ BSI (2012a)
Principles of LCA of GHG emissions: horticulture ¿ BSI (2012b)

LCA applications
UK chickens ¿ Leinonen et al. (2012)
Global livestock ¿ MacLeod et al (2013), Opio et al. (2013)
Review of livestock studies ¿ de Vries and de Boer (2010)
Review of aquaculture methods ¿ Henriksson et al. (2011)

Week 3: Fisheries, aquaculture and food security

Lem et al. 2014 provide a short introduction to the trends and issues
The State of the World¿s Fisheries and Aquaculture (this is a biennial publication ¿ latest issue summer 2014)
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021, ch8
Making aquaculture more sustainable
The SEAT project, is using LCA to measure the sustainability of Asian aquaculture.
EU marine/fisheries policy
General comment and analysis
Allison et al. (2011)
Smith et al. (2010a)
Frid and Paramor (2012)

Week 3: Cost-benefit analysis applied to marine ecosystem services
Guest speaker ¿ no reading provided

Week 4a: The global dairy industry: trend, drivers and challenges
FAO (2013) Milk and dairy products in human nutrition Rome: FAO
Peter de Jong (ed) (2013) Sustainable Dairy Production Oxford: Wiley
(available at:
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2014-23, ch9
GHG emissions from global dairy
FAO (2013b) Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ruminant Supply Chains: A Global Life Cycle Assessment

Week 5: Food waste and food security: overview.

Overviews of global food waste patterns
FAO (2011a) Global Food Losses and Food Waste Rome: FAO
Bond, M., Meacham, T., Bhunnoo, R. and Benton, T.G. (2013) Food waste within global food systems. A Global Food Security report (
Bagherzadeh, M., M. Inamura and H. Jeong (2014), ¿Food Waste Along the Food Chain¿, OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, No. 71, OECD Publishing

Brief overview of the UK situation
House of Commons (2015, p15-18)
Detailed popular account of why waste arises and what could/should be done
Tristram Stuart (2009) Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (copy in SRUC library on reserve)

Improving food waste prevention
House of Lords European Union Committee (2014a) Counting the Cost of Food Waste: EU Food Waste Prevention

Improving food waste management
House of Lords Science and Technology Committee (2014b) Waste or resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy (3rd Report, Session 2013- 14, HL Paper 141)

Improving food waste measurement

Brief critique of consumer society
Rayner, G. and Lang, T. (2012) Waste Lands? In Doron, N. (ed), Revaluing Food. (Fabian Society, London)

Retail industry strategy to improve resource efficiency
BRC (2014) ¿ provides indicators, targets, reporting of progress and practical examples of how progress has been achieved. Food waste strategy pages 52-57 Available at: Better Retailing Climate

Week 6: Innovative learning week
No lecture

Week 7: Sustainable Diets: Optimising diets for nutrition and environmental impact

Cooking up a storm: Food, greenhouse gas emissions, and our changing climate. T. Garnett. Food Climate Research Network. 2008
Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century The Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office, July 2008
Does the Swedish consumer¿s choice of food influence greenhouse gas emissions?A.Wallen, N.Brandt, R.Wennersten. EnvironmentalScience & Policy 7 (2004) 525¿535
Double Pyramid: healthy food for people, sustainable food for the planet. Barilla Centerfor Food & Nutrition. 2011
Guidelines for a healthy diet: the ecological perspective. Health Council of the Netherlands (2011)
Setting the table: Advice to Government on priority elements of sustainable diets. Sustainable Development Commission. 2009
Livewell: a balance of healthy and sustainable food choices. WWF publication (Macdiarmid et al) 2011
MillwardDJ, Garnett T. 2010 Food and the planet: nutritional dilemmas of greenhouse gas emission reductions through reduced intakes of meat and dairy foods. Proc NutrSoc.69(1):103-18.
Macdiarmid 2012 Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet? Proc Nut Soc doi:10.1017/S0029665112002893
Macdiarmid et al 2012 Sustainable diets for the future: can we contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by eating a healthy diet? AJCN 96:632¿9
More reading at Food Climate Research Network

Week 7: Food security and climate change
FAO (2013a,b,c)
IPCC (2014)

Food-Climate Research Network
Committee on Climate Change -
MacLeod et al. (2010)

Life-cycle analysis
FAO (2013a,b,c)
M. de Vries, I.J.M. de Boer (2010) Comparing environmental impacts for livestock products: A review of life cycle assessments Livestock Science 128 (2010) 1¿11

Week 8: Practical: applying life-cycle analysis to livestock products - measuring GHG emissions and efficiency across the supply chain.
No reading

Week 9a: Case study: Using LCA and CBA to analyse East African dairy systems

Background on livestock and the environment:
Steinfeld et al. (2006)
Gerber et al. (2010)
Food-Climate Research Network

FAO (2013a,b,c)
M. de Vries, I.J.M. de Boer (2010) Comparing environmental impacts for livestock products: A review of life cycle assessments Livestock Sci. 128

Mckinsey (2009) Pathways to a low carbon economy Version 2 of the Global Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Curve
Committee on Climate Change -
MacLeod M, Moran D, Eory V, Rees R.M., Barnes A, Topp C.F.E., Ball B, Hoad S, Wall E, McVittie A, Pajot G, Matthews R, Smith P, Moxey A (2010) Developing greenhouse gas marginal abatement costs curves for agricultural emissions from crops and soils in the UK Agricultural Systems 103 198¿209

Week 9b: Book club: discussion of ¿The Last Hunger Season¿ and the role of smallholder farming in food security

Collier, P. (2008) The Bottom Billion TED Talk.
Collier, P (2008) The Politics of Hunger: How Illusion and Greed Fan the Food Crisis Foreign Affairs Volume 87, no. 6.
Collier, P. (2008) The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collier, P. and Stefan Dercon (2009) African agriculture in 50 years: smallholders in a rapidly changing world? Expert Meeting on How to Feed the World in 2050 Rome: FAO
Collier, P. (2012) Review of ¿The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change¿ By Roger Thurow Published: Washington Post, September 8, 2012
Herrero, M., Havlik, P., McIntire, J., Palazzo, A. and Valin, H. 2014. African Livestock Futures: Realizing the Potential of Livestock for Food Security, Poverty Reduction and the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition and the United Nations System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC), Geneva, Switzerland, 118 p.
Thurow, R (2012) ¿The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change¿

Week 10:Environment, security and global governance
Barrett, C.B. (2013) Food security and sociopolitical stability Oxford University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsFood Security Healthy Environment Global Change Environment
Course organiserMr Michael MacLeod
Course secretaryMrs Elspeth Martin
Tel: 0131 535 4198
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