Fungi could reduce reliance on fertilizers

Introducing fungi to wheat boosted their uptake of key nutrients and could lead to new 'climate smart' varieties of crops, according to a new study. 

Researchers at the University of Leeds have demonstrated a partnership between wheat and soil fungi that could be utilised to develop new food crops and farming systems which are less reliant on fertilisers, reducing their contribution to the escalating climate crisis.

It is the first time the fungi, which form partnerships with plant roots, have been shown to provide significant amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen to a cereal crop. The fungi continued to provide nutrients under higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) predicted for 2100, which has important implications for future food security.

Lead researcher Professor Katie Field, said "Fungi could be a valuable new tool to help ensure foos security in the face of the climate and ecological crises. 

The full article can be accessed here


 Helping the Anti-parasitic medicine go down

Scientists have developed a new way to deliver anti-parasitic medicines more efficiently. An international team, led by Professor Francisco Goycoolea from the University of Leeds and Dr Claudio Salomon from the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina, and in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Munster, Germany, have developed a novel pharmaceutical formulation to administer triclabendazole - an anti-parasitic drug used to treat a type of flatworm infection - in billions of tiny capsules.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 2.4 million people are infected with fascioliasis, the disease caused by flatworms and treated with triclabendazole.

Anti-parasitic drugs do not become effective until they dissolve and are absorbed. Traditionally, these medicines are highly insoluble and this limits their therapeutic effect.

The full article can be accessed here

Image: The common liver fluke which can cause fascioliasis. Credit: Wikimedia creative commons


Dr Bernadette Moore recognised with Silver Medal Award

This year’s prestigious Nutrition Society Silver Medal has been awarded to Dr Bernadette Moore, Associate Professor in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds.

The annual award, which recognises scientific excellence in the field of nutrition, was presented to Dr Bernadette Moore for her research 'From Sugar to Liver Fat and Public Health: Systems Biology Driven Studies in Understanding Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Pathogenesis'.

“I am incredibly honoured to win this prestigious award from the Nutrition Society,” said Dr Moore of her successful application.

“It has been really lovely hearing congratulations and well wishes from past students and current and former colleagues and friends. I am beyond honoured and I am really looking forward to sharing the work of my group over the last ten years with my colleagues at the Summer Conference” she added.

Applications for the Silver Medal are judged by a panel of nutrition experts, from different institutions, who take into consideration a number of factors such as; external recognition, evidence of extensive academic publications and evidence of a record of sustained research funding.

Dr Moore’s award-winning lecture was presented at this year’s Summer Conference: Getting energy balance right at the University of Leeds. The conference will address a variety of influencing factors on energy balance and different needs across a person’s lifespan and will feature a number of lectures from leading academics within the nutrition field.


WTO rules could hamper UK efforts to ‘take control’ of farming policy

Fiona Smith, University of Leeds Professor of International Economic Law, said plans to maintain subsidy levels and redirect payments towards the delivery of public goods are likely to come under pressure from World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which aim to stop trade distortion.

Speaking at the N8 Agrifood Conference in Liverpool earlier this month, Prof Smith said as an EU member state, the UK had been insulated by WTO rules which dictate the size of subsidies and how they are paid.

Read the full article in Farmers’ Guardian here


Asda Customers save £57 a year by reducing food waste

Asda is the first UK supermarket to prove savings for customers, as two million reduce food waste at home following a campaign with the University of Leeds

Asda has become the first UK supermarket chain to confirm how much customers have saved after launching a campaign to tackle food waste.

Working in partnership with the University of Leeds, the business has revealed that customer bank balances were, on average, £57 better off a year as they committed to cutting food waste in their own homes.

Announced today at a parliamentary reception, hosted by MP Hilary Benn, Asda explained that the positive customer behaviour change was driven by a series of actions developed in-line with its customer insight, combined with research conducted by the University of Leeds.

Award for Published Paper

Professor Janet Cade's paper was chosen to receive the award for the best RCT (randomised controlled trial) published in 2014 by the Journal and the award was presented at the national IJBNPA conference in Edinburgh in June 2015.

Christian MS, Evans CE, Nykjaer C, Hancock N, Cade JE. Evaluation of the impact of a school gardening intervention on children's fruit and vegetable intake: a randomised controlled trial. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2014; 11:99

New Leeds Institute for Data Analytics facility and collaborative research in health and human behaviour

Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) is bringing together applied research groups alongside data scientists in mathematics and computer science to open up unparalleled opportunities to understand health and human behaviour.  We are investing in a purpose-built and fully equipped facility with space for more than 40 academic and research personnel, to maximise benefits for collaborative research and engagement with external partners.  Building on existing facilities including a safe data room, advanced computational infrastructure, and a fully equipped training suite, the new space is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.

Transformations to Sustainability

Professor Paul Routledge has been awarded a highly competitive network seed grant of €30,000 from the International Social Science Council Transformations to Sustainability programme. The network, sited in the UK, USA, Brazil, South Africa, Bangladesh and New Zealand is investigating ‘resource sovereignty’ including food.

Leeds signs Memorandum of Understanding with Jiangsu University (JSU)

The two universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a recent visit from JSU’s President Yuan Shouqi to Leeds.

A new collaboration between the University and Jiangsu University in China aims to establish a joint research centre for food reassurance which will seek to accelerate the development and application of food safety and sensing technologies and solutions.

Professor Megan Povey, who is leading the collaboration at the University, says: “We aim to establish a UK-China joint laboratory on remote and non-invasive, non-destructive sensing for food quality and safety, which will enable us to maximise the resources and facilities in both universities.

“This is a key strategic activity for the University, as we have many internationally recognised experts in areas related to food sensing – including ultrasound, passive acoustics, microwave, terahertz, medical diagnostics, robotics, and optical techniques. Together with our engineering expertise, we also have leading exponents of the data analysis necessary to deal with data from multiple sources and modalities, and supply chain control. In addition to the academic leverage it gives us, the collaboration with JSU also offers greater investment and capacity in industrial or commercial strength engineering.”

The visit coincided with a Food Sensing Technology event at Weetwood Hall on 10 November which brought together food manufacturers, retailers and technology providers to discuss how improved food sensing technologies can better address food safety and quality.

The event at Weetwood was a great success, with many different disciplines represented, including food manufacturers, major retailers, equipment and technology manufacturers, and other universities and research organisations, as well a strong representation from University staff and government bodies including the Food Standards Agency. Some members of the Jiangsu delegation were also present for a large part of the day. Several working prototypes were used to demonstrate how new technolgies would work, and we had a drone airborne in the garden. Other technologies on display included hard plastic detection in ready meals without compromising the integrity of the pack, another which measured the internal density of a turnip to identify whether brown rot was present, and one which can accurately measure the crisp or crunch of food such as a biscuit being snapped.

Later in the day, the audience was split into four groups and challenged to identify the biggest issue they wanted solving within an industrial context. Each group was led by a representative from industry, and this proved very lively with strong debate. Rapid, non invasive affordable technology to test for physical and microbiological contamination of food throughout the supply chain was the main outcome, and sets a challenge for the research base.

The feedback from the day was positive, with many delegates asking for more networking time and even a second day if a similar event is done again.



Fast Track Your Research Impact with Industry

Please note that all places have now been filled for this session. If you would like to register your interest for the event please email Liz Liversedge ( who can let you know if there have been any cancellations.

N8 Agrifood students are invited to apply for a place at our Engaging with Industry Training Day - the latest event in N8 Agrifood's Doctoral Training Seminar Series.

The event, on February 26 2020, will provide an interactive session for 3rd and 4th year students who are considering a career in Industry or who want to improve their skills in translating research for industry.

Course description

This session will give you everything you need to generate and communicate real-world impacts from your research with industry. You will learn about practical tools to time-efficiently increase the significance and reach of your impact. The training is based on the latest research evidence and takes a unique relational approach to deliver wide-reaching and lasting impacts. The course is run by N8 Agrifood Chair, Prof Mark Reed, features input from David Mela from Unilever and is illustrated with examples of N8 industry engagement and impact.

After the workshop you are invited to an optional free follow-up programme over five weeks so you can apply what you have learned. You can work through these steps yourself from the handbook, but by signing up to take these steps online, you get access to extra material. Each step consists of a 6 minute video with accompanying text and tasks. Prof Reed continues to answer all questions from participants via email after the course. 

About the trainer

Prof Mark Reed is a recognised international expert in impact research with >150 publications that have been cited >17,000 times. He holds a Research England & N8 funded Chair at Newcastle University, is research lead for an international charity, and has won awards for the impact of his research. 

The seminar is free to attend and is open to students studying agri-food rerlated topics across the N8 Universities: Newcastle, Durham, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. It will run from 10am to 4:30pm in The Nexus Building, Discovery Way, University of Leeds, LS2 3AA.


For further details, including the agenda and to register, via Eventbrite:

If you have any questions on the event please contact Liz Liversedge (


N8 Agrifood International conference 2019 - Creating solutions for a sustainable food system.

The N8 Agrifood 2019 conference took place on 22/23 October and over the course of the two days the event welcomed 250 representatives from academia, industry, government, agriculture, retail and charity to the Principal Hotel in York.

The conference was formerly opened by Professor Charlie Jeffery, the Vice Chancellor of the University of York and Dr Riaz Bhunoo, director of Global Food Security, who gave details of a new £47.5 million GFS research programme, supporting interdisciplinary research and training to transform the UK food system. Click here for more information.

Sponsored by the Universities of Leeds, Newcastle and York, this year's conference featured key note presentations from Jonathan Brooks, Head of the Agri-Food Trade and Markets Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Phil Hambling, Head of Food and Farming at the NFU and Cathryn Higgs, Head of Food Policy at the Co-op.

The conference, which included a dinner at the National Railway Museum in York, featured a photography exhibition documenting the work that Geovanni Martinez-Guerra, from the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden conducted for the N8 Agrifood Project: Tomatoes for Tomorrow. Another new feature for the conference was live scribe Cara Holland, who brought to life discussions throughout the conference sessions with visual interpretations.

Throughout the event N8 Agrifood worked with Hoping York Street Kitchen and Kitchen For Everyone to ensure any left over food from the event was given to organisations that support homeless people.

For a full round up of the conference please see the N8 Agrifood website


Interdisciplinary Symposium on Food Justice

This symposium explored food justice from theoretical and practical perspectives. It considered what food justice is, what justice demands from food policy, and how existing regulation achieves or fails to achieve food justice. It explored food justice as an overarching term encompassing theoretical perspectives like food security, food sovereignity and the right to food, and highlights specific problems with food justice.


N8 Agrifood International Conference 2018

Tackling the complex challenges facing the food system took centre stage at this year’s N8 AgriFood International Conference 2018: ‘People, Health and Food Systems, challenges and solutions for 2030’, hosted by the Universities of Liverpool and York.

More than 80 speakers took part at the showpiece two-day event at Liverpool’s Hilton Hotel, 13-14th June 2018, where attendees representing academia and industry came together to address the key issues facing the food system. The conference attracted 300 attendees from the UK, Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

Participating organisations included: The Real Junk Food Project, Farm Urban, DEFRA, The Trussell Group, Mathys-Squire, Pepsico, Waitrose, Co-op, William Jackson Food Group, Samworth Brothers, WRAP, Mondelez, Nestle, First Love Foundations, Can Cook Kitchen, the Environmental Change Institute, The Food Domain, the Food Standards Agency, SIME-Darby PLC, Decarbonize Ltd, Living Loud, IFSTAL, Innovate UK and the British Geological Society.

During lively debates, conference speakers discussed some of the biggest issues facing the sector including Brexit, food poverty, changing consumer behaviour, food waste and bio-economies, new technologies, food safety and resilience in supply chains and urban and vertical farming.

The impact of Brexit was addressed in a keynote speech from Professor The Lord Trees, the renowned veterinary surgeon and academic and chair of the Moredun Research Institute which conducts research into diseases of farm livestock and the promotion of animal health and welfare.

Mark Suthern, National Head of Agriculture at Barclays and N8 AgriFood External Advisory Board member for the N8 AgriFood programme said: “The industry is now facing unprecedented challenges with growing populations, climate change, and the potential implications of Brexit. Working together, industry and academia can play a major role in delivering solutions for a more sustainable food system that is fit for the future.

“The N8 AgriFood conference aimed to achieve raised awareness of the complexity of the food system, it was an important opportunity for the programme to bring together key players. Collaboration across the sector is central to influencing change and N8 AgriFood is at the forefront of these efforts.”

The final seminar in the FOOD series has now taken place:

“Facing the Future of FOOD”

The ESRC-funded seminar series Food Options, Opinions and Decisions (FOOD): Integrating perspectives on consumer perceptions of food safety, nutrition and waste has been designed by our team of practitioners and academics, and aims to identify strategies that help consumers to achieve nutritious food choices that both improve food safety and reduce food waste.

The seminar series has been designed by our team of practitioners and academics, with the goal of achieving the best impact. Our practitioner team members come from the Food Standards Agency which aims to improve food safety and healthy eating, as well as at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) which aims to reduce food waste. Our academic team members come from the University of Leeds Centre for Decision Research and the Human Appetite Research Unit who are experts in consumer food choice, domestic food waste, and risk communication, as well as from the Newcastle University Food and Society Group at the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development who are experts in food safety and risk communication.

Through nine seminars to be held over three years, which started in January 2015, we have created a lasting network of users and academics who have mostly been working separately on these different topics to date. We have confirmed academic and practitioner speakers from across the UK and overseas who are key experts in the relevant domains.

If you would like to view some of the presentations and outputs from the previous seminars, you can view them in PDF or video format on the website

For more details about the project please visit