IUFoST Distinguished Lecturer, Professor Sir Charles Godfray on Food Systems Challenges

(A recording of the IAFoST Fellows 2020 virtual induction ceremony can be viewed here.)

Oxford Professor and IUFoST Distinguished Lecturer Sir Charles Godfray addressed the newly elected Fellows of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) regarding some of the daunting challenges confronting food systems now and in the future.  During this induction ceremony held virtually on 15 August, he also expressed optimism because of the extraordinary resilience of global food systems displayed during the initial phases of the pandemic.

After more than five months of lockdown in his home in the United Kingdom, Professor Sir Charles Godfray observed that “The global food – the commodity system – has shown itself to be quite tremendously resilient”.  He notes that this is good news but we should not become complacent.

He told the Fellows that outside of some initial overbuying in the UK, the system has stabilized. One unexpected shortage was in flour, which turned out to be due to an insufficient number of machines to package retail quantities of flour for consumers who had increased their home baking.  The capacity to respond to demands of consumers and to the disruptions in the food supply systems will need to be a focus for food scientists and technologists going forward.

Professor Godfray talked about how the health issues faced by many countries have become critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, he noted that obesity appears to be a risk factor for more serious outcomes and that governments must make greater efforts to encourage people to maintain appropriate body weight.

As a population biologist, Professor Godfray stated that “we can be a global population without wrecking the environment”.  He explained that “while the earth’s population is expected to plateau this century, the way we produce food now is unsustainable”.  He noted that food production must be sustainable and intensified, diets need to be healthier and food wastage must be reduced. Food Science and Technology has a pivotal role to play in responding to these challenges.

Professor Sir Charles Godfray is the Director of the Oxford Martin School in Oxford University, United Kingdom and has been involved in adapting global food systems to the challenges of the 21st century.  Professor Godfray was also elected to the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) and joins 29 other new Fellows in the Class of 2020, inducted on 15 August 2020.

To view the complete IAFoST Fellows 2020 virtual induction ceremony click here.