Driving progress for healthy people and a healthy planet

Published: 30 April 2024

Midlothian Science Zone Business Forum welcomed Professor Geoff Simm, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies on the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus, to outline the work of the Academy to our business guests.

On Tuesday 16th April, Midlothian Science Zone Business Forum guests gathered at Roslin Innovation Centre, the business hub of the University of Edinburgh Easter Bush Campus, for business networking with others ‘in the zone’ before an insightful presentation from guest speaker Professor Geoff Simm, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems (GAAFS) is a leading interdisciplinary hub of researchers, teachers and students – developing new science, curating evidence and learning on the intersection and interdependence of the systems that underpin the health and wellbeing of people and our planet.

Professor Simm set out the focus of the Global Academy, that provides science and leadership for regenerative, ethical, food and land use systems and seeks to understand the drivers of food system and planetary health challenges, and drive the development of mutually beneficial solutions through expertise, engagement and strong partnerships.

Msz Gaafs Charolais Cows And Calves At Grass 1600 

GAAFS is a relatively young organisation, established in 2016 and staffed from 2018, an interdisciplinary hub working across the University and partnerships, both UK and overseas, to source data. They work with a science, industry and policy interface incorporating governance and ethics supported by a wealth of expertise within a diverse team of staff, staff associates and PhD students totalling 100.

With the exponential growth in the world population since the 1950s, mainly due to medical advancements and increases in agricultural productivity, is set to continue and particularly in Africa and Asia. A systematic approach is essential to tackle the pressures on farming and food systems and to help address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity and environmental practises nutrition, and health inequalities across the globe.

 Examples of projects include the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action, headquartered in Nairobi to improve prediction and action on malnutrition, in particular the gap in how data is used.

Another project, with Dr Rafael De Oliveira Silva, is on the restoration of degraded pastures in Brazil contributing to a zero-deforestation target. By using innovative bio-economic models, the impact of changes to land use, land management and the demand for meat can be analysed, as well as the adoption of new technologies, on the greenhouse gas emissions of beef production.

Animal health and human health are intertwined as is the importance of capturing cultural heritage around food. The One Health FIELD Network (Middle East) provides food security intelligence and evidence-based interventions for local sustainable development in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Closer to home, a Global Academy project with nutrition expert Professor Lindsay Jaacks examines diet and food in Scotland and the effect human nutrition has on health and the environment. Reduced meat consumption would be beneficial in affluent societies, however poorer countries would benefit from more meat in their diet.

Inspiring lifelong learning pathways is another focus of GAAFS, offering a range of education and training opportunities, ranging from undergraduate, postgraduate, executive education and free online courses in the form of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses such as Sustainable Global Food Systems), and CPD / Short Online Courses (such as The Power of Data in Farm Animal Practice).

The presentation sparked several interesting discussions and a Q & A session on all aspects of the work of the Global Academy and the enormous challenges for the food industry, particularly in the face of sustainability goals, green targets, and the food poverty gap around the globe. Much of these challenges need to be met at a local level to provide locally grown sustenance and recognising the need for animals to regenerate the land.

Ga Afs Logo 2 Colour Onwhite 500

For anyone interested in learning more about the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems or to discuss collaboration, please contact Dr Darren Watt, Business Manager.

Further sources of information:



The Powerpoint presentation shown at the event is also available on request from Emma McCallum, Midlothian Science Zone.


If you missed this MSZ Business Forum and want to find out more about research, expertise or business support 'in the zone', please email Emma McCallum, MSZ Project Coordinator. 

The purpose of MSZ Business Forum is to create an opportunity for discussion, collaboration and awareness of other businesses 'in the zone'.  The next event is expected to be held in June, and details of host and theme will be announced soon - as always, there will be time for networking.

To be kept informed of forthcoming events or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Emma McCallum, Project Coordinator. 

Msz Business Forum Logo 500X300


The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Easter Bush Campus
  • Midlothian EH25 9RG

Deputy Head of School - Operations: Cat Eastwood

T: +44 (0)131 651 7441

Email us

Roslin Innovation Centre

  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Easter Bush Campus
  • Midlothian EH25 9RG

Campus Operating Officer and Interim CEO Roslin Innovation Centre: Val Hughes-White

T: +44 (0)131 651 9000

Email us

Midlothian Science Zone

  • Roslin Innovation Centre
  • The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus
  • Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland

Project Co-ordinator: Emma McCallum

T: +44 (0)131 651 9000

Email us

Fairfield House

  • 8 Lothian Road
  • Dalkeith
  • EH22 1DN

Business Growth Adviser: Robbie Broomfield

T: 0131 516 4953

Email us