RAU Professor publishes paper on safeguarding global supply chains during a pandemic

14 Jan 2021

Louise Manning, Professor of Agri-food and Supply Chain Security at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), has called for strong global, national and community-based food security strategies to reduce the risk of empty plates around the world.

“Despite having policy and technological tools to reduce the impact of many human, zoonotic and plant diseases, the risk of empty plates[1] at local, regional and global levels cannot be ignored,” states Professor Manning, whose comment piece has been published in Nature Food.

This means, she concludes, that we need to have strong global, national and community-based food security strategies that fundamentally recognise the human right to be able to access and acquire food of an appropriate nutritional value at all times in all households on the planet.   

Food insecurity is complex – there is no silver bullet of policy or market intervention that can lead to a situation where all people at all times will have continuous access to healthy, affordable diets,” writes Professor Manning in the prestigious online journal which publishes top-tier original research, reviews, comments and opinions about food. 

Recent events such as the global Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions, social unrest and military conflict, locust swarms from Ethiopia to India[2], ever-present rodent plagues[3], and the implementation of protectionist food export controls have influenced the availability for communities across the world, she explains. There is probably more disruption of our food chains to come in the short term too, Professor Manning warns.

“The last time in the UK we had to determine what the minimum acceptable standards should be for a diet for an individual person was when food rationing legislation was introduced on the 15th September 1941.[4] The UN Sustainable Development Goals[5] also determine the dynamics of an acceptable life and multi-level consensus building and action is essential to safeguard food supply – especially if, as a global community, we seek to deliver two of the targets set of “no poverty and zero hunger”, she says.

Professor Manning’s paper, ‘Safeguard global supply chains during a pandemic,’ can be read here https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-020-00213-5.

Professor Manning is available for interview or comment on all matters relating to food security.

[1] The Food Foundation. Available at: https://foodfoundation.org.uk

[2]FAO Desert Locust Bulletin (July 2020). Available at: http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts/common/ecg/2556/en/DL501e.pdf

[3] Stenseth, N.C., Leirs, H., Skonhoft, A., Davis, S.A., Pech, R.P., Andreassen, H.P., Singleton, G.R., Lima, M., Machang'u, R.S., Makundi, R.H. & Zhang, Z., (2003). Mice, rats, and people: the bio‐economics of agricultural rodent pests. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment1(7), 367-375.

[4] Rationed Foodstuffs Hansard 1941. Available at: https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1941/sep/30/rationed-foodstuffs

[5] UN Sustainable Development Goals. Available at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/