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Food and society

BCFN YES! 2016

Ten research projects for a sustainable food system will be revealed at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition. The winner will receive a €20,000 scholarship for their research project.

The BCFN Foundation is playing an active role in encouraging and supporting young scientists who are carrying out research to tackle the problems in our food system. This is done by promoting research which is high quality, collaborative, multi-disciplinary and on an international scale, thus creating a generation of experts in this sector.

The 5th edition of BCFN YES! has been hugely successful: young PhD and postdoc researchers from over 40 different countries participated in the latest competition which is investing in higher education by offering a research scholarship.

An international panel of experts  has chosen the ten best teams based on the robustness, organisation and practicality of the projects. All the finalists will have the opportunity to present their project in front of the expert panel and the audience at the 7th International Forum on Food and Nutrition to be held at Bocconi University in Milan from 30 November to 1 December. After all of the presentations, the winner will then be selected and announced.

We are eagerly expecting to be inspired by the proposals put forward by the finalists of this edition.

To be produced in a sustainable way, it is essential that the food of the future uses fewer resources than are currently required. In order to find an innovative solution to this problem, it is important to look to the past: many young people are rediscovering agriculture, and investing in new farming methods and technologies.

Mohammed Ssemwanga (Uganda) suggests using hybrid solar drying technology to ensure food security in an age of climate change, while Bello Daouda (Benin) is measuring and studying adaptation strategies adopted in the production of cashew nuts. Niccolò Calandri and Riccardo Balzaretti (Italy) designed an electronic control system for beehives to prevent the disappearance of bees. Anne-Teresa Birthwright and Shaneica Lester (Jamaica) are proposing an educational course to improve irrigation strategies among local farmers and measuring the effects on vegetation. Chris Maughan (UK) is carrying out research into grassroot innovations in agroecology in three different European countries to assess how these approaches can be spread and supported by government policies.

Food sustainability must also include a crucial social dimension: the work of Constanza Monterrubio Solís (Mexico) focuses on recovering food traditions, with a comparative study between Los Altos de Chiapas in Mexico and Shillong, Meghalaya in India.

The issue of guaranteeing access to food, and at the same time ensuring its quality, is being tackled by the team of Darja Dobermann (Germany) and Charlotte Paine (UK). Their proposal aims at breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition by establishing control over food production using edible insects in Burkina Faso. Moreover, Diana Marcela Morales Londoño (Colombia), Anabel Gonzàlez (Cuba) and Emanuela Pille da Silva (Brazil) are collaborating in their research into the boundaries between food risk and security of agricultural production taking place on land recovered from coal mining in Brazil.

The connection between food and health is the subject of research carried out by Benedetta Raspini (Italy) which analyses the effectiveness and safety of an African pulse which can be used to treat and prevent Parkinson’s disease in Ghana and Zambia. Meanwhile, health is also the focus of the project put forward by Chen Pin Jane (Taiwan), whose research looks at the shift towards healthy and sustainable nutritional choices and their underlying neural mechanisms, in order to gain a better understanding of how we can improve our eating habits.

All of these proposal show that today’s young generation is motivated and feels a responsibility to create a better food system. Each and every project in the BCFN YES! competition is a clear commitment to move in this direction.
The International Forum has become an effective and long-lasting incubator for such innovations, which will leave an important legacy for everyone striving for a sustainable world.


Katarzyna Dembska – BCFN Alumni and YES! Coordinator
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