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02/20/2024 | Campus-Meldung

Agricultural and food systems: Kassel professors on DFG Senate Commission

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is setting up a Senate Commission for Policy Advice on the Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems. This was announced by the DFG yesterday (19. 2.). Among the members are two professors from the University of Kassel.

Image: Blafield.

Global agricultural and food systems are undergoing profound change due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, changes in land use and demographic changes. The mission of the newly established Permanent Senate Commission Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems of the German Research Foundation (DFG) is to better understand this change and to prepare scientifically sound information for the resulting social and political challenges. The DFG's University Senate decided to establish the commission in December 2023 and all 18 members from the agricultural, social, natural and life sciences have now agreed to work on the commission, which will be chaired by agricultural biologist Professor Dr. Doris Vetterlein. The University of Kassel is represented by Prof. Dr. Miriam Athmann, Department of Organic Agriculture and Crop Production, and Prof. Dr. Ute Knierim, Department of Livestock Ethology and Animal Husbandry.

"The unique selling point of the new DFG Senate Commission is its broad scientific expertise and its systemic view of the transformation of agricultural and food systems," says DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker. "The committees and institutions that have been set up at national level to date predominantly only cover a specific area of agriculture and are also often bound by directives. The DFG wants to close this gap with the new Senate Commission. It will operate on the basis of purely fundamental scientific findings and take account of agricultural and food systems in their entirety," says Becker.

"The task of the commission is to continuously process new findings with regard to their scientific, social and political significance and thus provide science-based and interdisciplinary advice," says Senate Commission Chairwoman Vetterlein. "The focus is on controversial topics, newly developing issues and the assessment of the potential and risk of technical innovations."

In order to do justice to the complexity of the topic, the Senate Commission considers the entire value chain, from natural conditions such as soil, climate and biodiversity to the cultivation and production systems for plants and animals and their integration into the market, trade and demand, through to the processing industry and consumers with their food requirements and eating habits. With the planned activities, the Senate Commission is also following the "Farm to Fork" strategy of the European Union (EU) and taking into account, for example, the international interdependence of supply chains as well as the economic, social and ecological effects of the transformation.

In addition, the Senate Commission will develop position papers in future and represent the DFG in relevant discussions and hearings.