AMPHoRA team news November 2022 Over the last few months some changes to the AMPHoRA Team have occurred. Prof. Alan Dangour (London school of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) has moved on to take a position with the Wellcome Foundation and Josie Williams (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) has taken up a position at NIRAS. We wish them much success in their new roles and thank them for the contributions they made to the AMPHoRA project. We welcome Angelica Orsi who has recently joined the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and has taken over from Josie Williams in the role of project manager. Prof. Paul Wilkinson October 2022 We deeply regret having to announce the death of Prof. Paul Wilkinson in September this year. All of the AMPHoRA team recognise his considerable contribution to the AMPHoRA project and feel privileged to have known and worked with Paul. We send our condolences to Paul’s family. Paul’s obituary from the LSHTM can be found here: https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/blogs/2022/obituary-paul-wilkinson AMPHoRA project extension September 2022 As with many projects during the COVID restriction period, AMPHoRA has been delayed by 9 months. We have been granted a no-cost extension by our funder, the UK Government’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). With apologies to all for this unavoidable delay, we are now on track to finalise AMPHoRA by the end of June 2023. Before then, we shall be re-connecting with our community and agency stakeholders and look forward very much to these upcoming meetings. Community Stakeholder November 2021 Meeting November 2021 Compiled by Scott Jones and Megan Jones Summary of the meeting Members from the four UK AMPHoRA community stakeholder groups and AMPHoRA scientists met via Zoom for 2.5 hours on Friday, 12th November. The objectives of the meeting were: to exchange updates on scientific findings and local actions related to AMPHoRA’s broad themes: air pollution, public health, climate change, food and diet, farming, and community resilience, and to discuss possibilities for future community engagement in 2022. Representatives from the communities shared updates on the actions that they or their groups have been taking locally that relate to AMPHoRA’s themes, especially in the last nine months. They also shared reflections on these issues, and what is needed in the future. Science colleagues shared updates on their research over the last nine months, and reflections on next steps. Topics here were: How air pollution affects our health How to assess different policy options What does (or could) the future of UK food and diets look like What does (or could) the future of UK animal agriculture look like In the limited time remaining, the whole group then discussed takeaways, the connections between different people’s talks, and ideas for next steps. Themes from community members’ presentations Theme Description Community resilience involves doing lots of different projects Community stakeholders and the local groups they are a part of are all involved in many different activities. We heard about beach clean-ups and litter-picks for plastic-free communities, trying out a local gift economy, creating re-use rooms and running craft activities, providing free slow cookers and teaching cooking about vegetables, doing regenerative farming, or creating community gardens, community-supported agriculture (CSA) schemes, and community woodlands – these are some of the many complementary activities that people are undertaking to contribute to local resilience and big-picture visions of a better future. They provided interesting and useful context for AMPHoRA’s direct and indirect goals. Another example of an urban agriculture project that was shared by a community member after the meeting was the Kirkstall Valley Farm, whose members collect a bag of locally grown, seasonal veg every week. It’s about building (and seeing) connections To achieve these different projects, AMPHoRA’s community stakeholders are building connections across different organisations in their local areas and looking for the interconnectedness among issues. For them, this meant bringing together in practical ways things like patient advocacy, marine conservation, local farmers, food waste charities, supermarkets, housing associations, schools, environmental charities, and more. As one community member put it, “… you might not think marine conservation has anything to do with farming, but it does, because what we do on the land affects the sea.” How do we get government (local authorities, national government) to be part of the solution? In some cases, local authorities seem to say the right words on issues like health and the environment, but then they don’t take action – or even take contrary action. In other cases, councils are actively reaching out to community-based climate groups and asking to partner with them. Several community stakeholders also mentioned that they had attended COP26. They felt that the climate talks were overshadowed by greenwashing and the glacial pace of change (pun intended?). A few case studies of actions community members are taking Action Description Immune Boosting Packs for cancer patients The pandemic has exacerbated health concerns for cancer patients, such as by having appointments cancelled or increased isolation or stress. One person and her group led an effort to distribute immune packs to cancer patients in Northern Ireland, including contents that were good for the gut biome such as soups and kombucha. Community fridge freezer to prevent food waste Food waste is a well-recognised problem for many reasons. A local group in Scotland have started rescuing food from a local supermarket that otherwise would have gone to a landfill. The food is brought down to the local community, put in a fridge freezer, and made available for anyone who wants it. Slow cooker library Busy parents with young families are some of the many people who might struggle to afford fresh produce, or to know how to cook it – and yet, they care about feeding healthy, good food to their kids. A community group in England has coordinated a donation of 15 slow cookers that can be borrowed out free by local families. During the pandemic, they also coordinated deliveries of fresh produce parcels, including a recipe each week for how to cook the food, and training support for those who needed it. Key findings from AMPHoRA research so far Air pollution: Agricultural air pollution (ammonia specifically) appears to be bad for lung health, at least near farms. Diets: Reductions in meat and dairy consumption can be driven by taxing meat while subsidising fruit and veg, or by encouraging meat and dairy alternatives. Both of these scenarios could enable us to meet our targets for getting to net zero emissions by 2030, and they could also potentially benefit people’s health. Farming: Changes in fertilizer use, slurry storage and spreading, and livestock housing, as well as reductions in food waste and uptake of low protein diets in cows can all help reduce emissions from agriculture. A “medium ambition” scenario would decrease these emissions by 14%, and a “high ambition” scenario would decrease these emissions by 26%. Next steps for AMPHoRA More research: This will include, for instance, investigating potential effects on public health and carbon emissions from the different scenarios about future diets. More local group meetings: in early 2022 Scott and Megan will coordinate with groups in each of the four nations to set up local (and hopefully in-person!) meetings to discuss the themes from this session in more detail, especially how AMPHoRA can support local groups. Community Stakeholder Scenario Meetings Compiled by Scott Jones and Megan Jones February 2021 Background: In January 2021 two meetings were held between AMPHoRA community stakeholder groups and three of the scientists leading AMPHoRA Work Packages 1 and 2. The purpose was for community stakeholders and scientists to meet, for the scientists to share draft scenarios concerning on-farm and dietary change, and for community members to give feedback on the scenarios. Twenty-four community members from the Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England AMPHoRA groups were able to attend one of the two 90-minute Zoom meetings. Some of those who could not attend because of work, childcare or other responsibilities were able to give feedback on the scenarios via email after the meetings. In this short report we summarise the feedback from community stakeholders to share with the scientific teams. The report will also be shared on the AMPHoRA website and with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR, the funder). Key priorities that community stakeholders noted are important: Agricultural air pollution Recognise that while animal welfare standards in the UK are relatively good, in large farms globally, they can sometimes be inhumane Bring farmers along – have the transition to more plant-based eating be both “just and friendly” Ensure that farmers know their work is valued (farming = vocation). It is important not to penalise or victimise farmers who are also ‘key workers’ Explore generational shift in farming as an opportunity (this links for some stakeholders (a) to incentives policies and (b) to more plant-based consumption with less meat and dairy) Consider soil erosion and river pollution as well as air pollution – a need for joined-up policy Link ammonia pollution to farmers’ business plans – make it easier/good business for them Healthy, sustainable diets Accommodate the fact that “people don’t cook from fresh anymore.” (Linked to how much time people spend of food sourcing and cooking, pace and family life, and quick processes) Hold supermarkets accountable for paying farmers fairly and making healthy (for people, for planet) food affordable Balance personal responsibility with supporting unhealthy people. Consider financial deterrents on unhealthy products that can then subsidise healthy produce Consider making meat cost more Talk about taste – some vegan food “tastes gorgeous” Navigate the stigma against veggie/vegan food in rural farming areas Explore generational shift in eating as an opportunity – “my granddad wouldn’t eat curry.” “My son has never eaten any vegetables but is now eating broccoli to encourage his young son to eat healthily” Integrate education on cooking with fresh and seasonal foods to families and kids Holistic connections Share scientific findings with policymakers, farmers and the public Government needs to meet the gap so that farmers are supported and fairly paid, and consumers are able to eat healthy, sustainable food at affordable prices Be more ambitious with government legislation – e.g. government subsidies until new tech is affordable Prioritise joined-up strategies to feeding people and using the land – e.g. national strategy. This is similar to the way energy strategy is pursued as an issue of national security, especially with climate change. Remember that “the biggest way to get people to dig in their heels is to tell them what to do” – both for farmers and for diets Remember that “small, gentle changes” made by everyone can make a difference Move beyond a “patching” approach to environment, diet, etc. – putting a patch on one leak, then pipe springs a leak somewhere else Questions that community stakeholders would like AMPHoRA researchers to consider: Agricultural air pollution How is the cow giving more milk on less food? One issue I frequently run into is that patients and other healthcare professionals don’t care about air pollution because it is invisible. This is especially true for ammonia which isn’t really on the agenda in the Republic of Ireland at all (comparative to N. Ireland and UK). My question is …do farmers care about ammonia? Is it on their agenda, or as Tom mentioned, are they continually swamped, distracted or blamed on any other number of issues? Are the combined marginal gains of the livestock lifecycle enough, in stark contrast to the planetary tipping points that are being crossed and pending? How can we engage the smaller farms, money is tight, getting these businesses to take part? Are you talking to the National Farmers Unions and asking farmers nationally? Size – how many farms less than 1,000 acres do we have? Farm size can make all the difference. If we go for huge farms what about the insect life etc? Curious about impact of a Urease inhibitor or manure acidification will have on soil microbial diversity & health Same question about the effects of slurry on the soil food web Could we know more about the effects of ammonia in the atmosphere? Tom mentioned particulates and their role in respiratory disease. How big is the problem.? Who is affected and where? Where is the protein in cattle feed coming from - not grass I assume? So, about 80% of the NH3 is from animals compared to crop growth? When you acidify manure what compounds do you get? How are they used/disposed of? Could a model similar to financing and expanding offshore wind work for uptake of these solutions? That way, farmers are encouraged to get on board without being left out of pocket and costs are (hopefully) driven down What about exploring companion planting schemes to increase efficiency? How would small local farmers be able implement such actions? In this area there are a number of small herds and use the old method of bedding cleared at the end of the winter and slurry removed daily. Storage is old fashioned I would like to see more research into mob grazing and its effects on carbon sequestration Would encouraging/funding regenerative agriculture help reduce the effects from slurry/manure storage as well as from intensive livestock farming? Is there scope for looking at bioremediation for ammonia reduction/ change to dinitrogen gas? Not a fan of Brexit but I’m interested in how we can use the opportunity to change agricultural production into something much more benign What are the relative N2 emissions between manure/slurry and fully composted 'waste'? Large farms probably use contractors to spread slurry-very often with the injection system. Could government policy direct the requirement for this system and ban older style slurry spreading possibly with a financial benefit? Healthy, sustainable diets Would legislation for school, hospital and care homes meals help to support drive to alternative diet? Has LSHTM had any joy in getting sustainable diets onto the medical curriculum for undergraduates / postgraduates / in-service training? I'm most curious how we converse and get buy-in with animal agriculture farmers. I work with former beef & dairy farmers that have/or want to transition, but also with NFU policy advisors whose stakeholders feel threatened by the growing vegan food market/alternatives and markets. Can we label the carbon footprint on price labels? This is a “must.” How are other countries that have good practice dealing with this? One of the benefits of Brexit is a greater emphasis on supporting British producers of anything, both industrial manufacturers, tourist destinations and food growers. Can this be used to encourage support for UK producers? How do the Blue Zone diets (10-year National Geographic study) figure in the Eatwell Guide? Most of what they eat is locally produced, mostly plant-based (with some meat or dairy) and they have lower rates of the chronic diseases we experience in the UK or States. How does Alan feel TV advertising, product placement and pricing in supermarkets play a role? What about a ‘National Farming Strategy?” If we are encouraging people to eat more fruit and veg, yet these are grown with more pesticides that impact the endocrine system, then surely we should be looking at food production? Are we encouraging more processed food like plant-based meat rather than grass fed meat? An analysis on mushrooms and mushroom-based products would be interesting. Some super tasty protein sources and huge potential for large and small-scale production of many mushrooms, Oyster Mushroom production for example is a growing industry If folk are encouraged to change their diets, could this lead to more imported food from water-poor countries - moving the problem abroad. We should support our growers/farmers in this country The pivotal point of leverage here it seems is the population diet - so how can we change this to less meat, more vegetables? So logically should we not advocate for a shift from livestock to veg-based agriculture? Is it ever pitched on a national security front? Similar to energy imports More horticulture? Resources shared: Climate neutrality: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/07fbe-ag-climatise-a-roadmap-towards-climate-neutrality/ Reith lectures: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0900t1x Films on changing diets: http://www.eatinganimalsmovie.com and https://whatsyour2040.com Information on a UK oatmilk farm: https://en.refarmd.com/ and https://vimeo.com/293352305 Blue Zone diets: https://www.bluezones.com/recipes/food-guidelines/ and https://www.bluezones.com/2012/07/albert-lea-mn-where-are-they-now/ Paper on where fruit and veg come from in the UK: https://rdcu.be/cav3z Paper on health effects and environmental impact of Eatwell Guide diet in UK: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/10/8/e037554.full.pdf Cowspiracy documentary: https://www.cowspiracy.com/about Food Inc documentary: https://watchdocumentaries.com/food-inc/ Fat, sick and nearly dead documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9SGWcZwk7c AMPHoRA Kick-Off meeting April 2020 With the CoVID-19 pandemic making face-to-face meetings impossible, the AMPHoRA project team met virtually to kick off the research and engagement activities on the 8th of April. After a brief introduction and a recap of the overall objectives of the project, work package leaders provided an overview of their planned research activities and timelines. The complexity of integrating the effects of both technological changes in agricultural production, and the impact of changes in diets both in the UK and in a wider, international context, were discussed and inform the approaches of WP1 and WP2 in particular. WP3 will then build on the scenarios developed within those WPs and calculate emission changes, which will enable atmospheric chemistry transport models to quantify how air pollutant concentrations in the UK may change as a consequence. Within WP4, discussions focused on the systematic literature review, led by the team at the University of Edinburgh, and the overall approach for the quantitative assessment of health impacts resulting from the different scenarios and modelling outcomes. Work package 5 presented the methodology and approach for the assessment of costs and benefits, and highlighted how uncertainty assessment will need to be built into the whole assessment chain to ensure AMPHoRA's results provide robust evidence for stakeholders and the general public. Finally, the focus of WP6 for the first phase of the project will be to establish public engagement links with a set of groups representing the general public across different regional settings in the UK. An early engagement with stakeholders, including policy and regulatory officers, charities, farming industry associations and nutrition experts, is planned for later in 2020, to provide opportunities for review and input into the final design of the AMPHoRA scenarios prior to the start of the quantitative modelling activities. The project team was enthusiastic to start and despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, is making good progress across all work packages and activities.