Personal profile


Professor David Barling is co-director of the Centre for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Management Research at the University of Hertfordshire. He is also the University Food Research Theme Champion. He leads the Food Systems and Policy research group. His research focuses on food policy, food security and sustainability, and the governance of the food system and the agri-food sector. Previously, he held the position of Reader in Food Policy at City, University of London. He has been the principal investigator and/or workpackage leader on a number of externally funded research projects, including UKRI, and EU Horizon 2020 and 7th Framework collaborations, and has supervised a number of PhD students. He is co-author of Food Policy: integrating, health, environment and society (Oxford University Press 2009) and co-editor of Ethical Traceability and Communicating Food (Springer 2008), and editor of the annual book serial Advances in Food Security and Sustainability (Academic Press 2016-2019). He sits on the editorial board of the interdisciplinary and international journal Agriculture and Human Values. He has acted as an advisor and consultant to: UNEP, European Commission DG SANCO, European Parliament, UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, the Scottish Government, a number of other Government and public bodies, and as a trustee of Sustain the UK NGO alliance for better food and farming. Currently, David is an an invited Fellow of the Clean Growth Leadership Network and a member of the Agricultural Universities Council UK.

Research interests

My research interests are broadly in the areas of: food policy, governance of food systems, security of the agri-food supply, and the political economy of food and agriculture.

Current Research Projects

'Thinking beyond the can': Mainstreaming UK-grown beans in healthy meals (BeanMeals) [June 2022- November 2024]. Joint research project Oxford, Warwick, Liverpool, Hull and Hertfordshire Universities funded by UKRI Strategic Priority Research Fund’s ‘Transforming UK Food Systems for healthy people and a healthy environment’ Programme (BBSRC). Total Award £1,784,966. Principal Investigator for UH awarded £238,726. 

Britain's Agri-Food Policy and Food Security: integration opportunities and transition pathways [Jan 2020 ongoing]. Principal Investigator. Funded by external and internal funding. Charitable Donation; Research England’s Quality-related Research, Strategic Priorities Fund andPolicy Support Fund at the University of Hertfordshire] awards of c. £130,000.

Selected Research Grants (completed) 

Achieving sustainable UK beef and sheep production and food systems in a changing environment. [November 2018- December 2023]. Joint project with Royal Veterinary College, fudned by the Cadogan Charity. UH grant share £200,000. UH Principal Investigator.

Optimising evidence for policy makers- Sustainable Diets. [August 2021-February 2022]. Joint project with University of York, funded by the Food Standards Agency, UH award £11,549.90. 

Delivering a healthy and sustainable food economy in the Letchworth Garden City [November 2017- Oct 2023]. Co-Investigator. Cofunded Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and Hertfordshire Local Economic Partnership. Grants awarded £105,858.

Valumics: Understanding Food Value Chain Dynamics and Networks [June 2017- September 2021] is an EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action under the Sustainable Food Security theme, with 21 partners with a total award of €6m from which UH’s award is €492,590. Grant agreement no: 727243. Work Package co-ordinator & Principal Investigator University of Hertfordshire.

Transforming the UK Food System: Research project to support a holistic funding programme, which leverages the lessons from other countries. [Feb 2020- Dec 2020] BBSRC Global Food Security programme research contract for £24,999.

GLAMUR: Global and Local food chain Assessment: a MUltidimensional peRformance-based approach (Feb 2013- Jan 2016) EU 7th Research Framework collaborative research project under the KBBE theme, with 15 academic partners & total grant of €2.93m. Grant agreement no: 311778. Work Package co-ordinator & Principal Investigator City University London.

SENSE: HarmoniSed ENvironmental Sustainability in the European food & drink chain (Feb 2012- Jan 2015) EU 7th Research Framework collaborative research project under the KBBE theme, with 23 partners including universities, research institutes & SMEs with a total grant of €2.89m. Grant agreement no: 288974. Work Package co-ordinator & Principal Investigator City University.

Purefood: Urban, peri-urban and regional food dynamics: toward an integrated and territorial approach to food (Dec 2010 - Nov 2014) EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network under the People work programme with a total grant of €2.8 m. Grant Agreement No: 264719. Principal Investigator City University.

Constructing a National Food Policy: policy integration and co-ordination pathways and challenges in Australia and the United Kingdom (Oct. 2012 - Sept 2016). PhD studentship: Co-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Animal, Food and Health Sciences - Australia & City University Studentship. Lead supervisor.

Foodlinks: Knowledge Brokerage to promote sustainable food consumption and production: linking scientists, policymakers and civil society organizations (Jan 2011- Dec 2013) EU 7th Research Framework collaborative research project under the environment theme with 10 partners with a total grant of  €1.5m. Grant Agreement No: 265287. Work Package co-ordinator & Principal Investigator City University.

Transparent_ Food:  Quality and Integrity in food –a challenge for chain communication and transparency research (Dec. 2009- Nov. 2011). EU 7th Framework Research Framework Co-operation and Support Action, with 10 partners for a total grant of  €995,094. Grant Agreement No: 245003. Work Package co-ordinator & Principal Investigator City University.

Food security and UK policy (2008): Report to the Soil Association UK 2008.  Principal Investigator, City University.

National sustainable food security in the UK (2006-8) funded by the Esmee Fairburn Foundation Environment Programme. Co-investigator City University. 

European Food Systems in a changing world – Scientific Forward Look: European Science Foundation/COST. (2006-7) ESF/COST European Commission funded. Retail and consumption section: Principal investigator City University.

Ethical Traceability and informed food choice (2004-7) EU 6th framework collaborative research project under Science and Society 4: Deepening the Understanding of Ethical Issues theme, with 7 partner institutions. Grant Contract no. SAS6-CT-2003-510235. Co-investigator City University.

Food safety norms, public health and consumers: international governance challenges(2008) report for the Steering Committee for Technology Assessment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality for the Netherlands: 2008, Principal investigator City University.

Codex, the EU and Developing Countries: an analysis of developments in international food standards setting (2003) report for the Rural Livelihoods Department of the UK Department for International Development (DfID). Co-investigator City University.

Commercial and public engagement

Governmental bodies

Non Governmental Bodies

  • Fellow of the Clean Growth Leadership Network, 2001 onwards.
  • Council member of Sustain (UK food and farming alliance of @ 100 NGOs) 2005 - 2020.
  • Chair of working party for Sustain’s Good Food on a Public Plate Project (public procurement of sustainable local food) 2005 - 2012. Chair of Good Food for Our Money Campaign working party 2009 - 2012.
  • Project Steering Board for the Sustainable Food Cities Programme 2013-2016 (Esmee Fairbairn Foundation funded c. £1m)
  • Associate member of the UK Health Forum 2008-2019.
  • British Standards Institute committee AW/90 Quality Systems for the Food Industry 2005-13.
  • Joint co-ordinator of the UK Agri-food Network a joint NGO-academic seminar series funded by the Network Foundation 2003-5
  • Member of Sustainable Food Supply Chain Commission: Industry and Parliament trust, Food Ethics Council & Warwick University 2013- 2014.


  • Advisory Board member FoodE – Food Systems in European Cities. EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under Grant Agreement No 862663. 2022-24.
  • Project Board member of AgRIA (Agri-Tech Research Innovation Accelerator), supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Rothamsted Research, University of Hertfordshire, University College London, Cranfield University, & the Green Triangle: 2019-2021.
  • Editorial board of the international journal Agriculture and Human Values since 2001.
  • Editor Advances in Food Security and Sustainability, Academic Press/ Elsevier, Annual Book Serial 2016-2019.
  • Invited expert surveyed for the UKRI funded Assessment of the impacts and potential consequences on the UK Food and Nutrition Security during and after the COVID-19 pandemic project John Hutton Institute, Cranfield University and Chatham House. 2020-21
  • Invited expert for the 10 years for Agro-Ecology in the UK project with the Food and Farming and Countryside Commission (NGO), 2020-21
  • Member of Core Group of UK Research Councils’ (RCUK) Global Food Security Project: Priority questions for the UK Food System 2013.
  • External advisor to Oxford University interdisciplinary research project Emerging Forms Of Food Consumer Behaviour and Food Governance 2013 -2014 (Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity & the Said Business School).
  • Advisory Board Food Research Collaboration (Esmee Fairburn Foundation funded project): 2014-17
  • Political Studies Association of the UK. PSA UK specialist groups 1. Public Policy and Administration 2. Environmental Politics
  • International Academic Advisory Committee for the Masters in Food Systems, Culture and Society, from the Open University of Catalonia (UNESCO Centre for e learning).
  • Food and Climate Research Network


Various including: BBC TV news; BBC 24 Hour news; BBC Radio 4 AM, PM, Farming Today and Moral Maze programmes; Radio 5 News; BBC World Service.


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