Food Systems and Evidence Use
A critical requirement for food systems transformation is seen to be the need to ‘establish better links between and across the scientific community, policymakers, businesses, community members and political leaders’ (European Commission 2022). As a result there has been a surge in interest in how to best link up the science with policy - sometimes described as improving the 'science-policy interface' for food systems. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation is developing normative guidance for better science-and evidence-based policy processes for agrifood systems. Another example is the European Commission High-Level Expert Group to assess needs, options for strengthening science policy interface for improved food systems governance.
Against this backdrop, the UK Food Standards Agency commissioned a project team across University of York, and University of Hertfordshire, including me, to explore the theme of evidence use around healthy sustainable diets. We used a range of methods, including literature review of the evidence on evidence use, plus interviews and workshops, to understand the use of evidence around diet shift - and food systems more broadly. There were two outputs from the project, a technical report, and a set of Guiding Principles. The Principles were created ‘to encourage and support evidence ‘users’ – for example, policymakers and practitioners in the public sector, food industry and third sector - to adopt and translate evidence on healthy sustainable diets, by helping evidence ‘generators’ to get the right evidence to the right users, in the most effective way possible’.