Moving to a sustainable and fair food system is a giant challenge, and the organisations driving it are small compared to the problems. So it is crucial that they are as effective as possible. That requires basing their work on sound evidence: about precisely where each problem is, why it arises, the relative sizes of the various problems, and what approaches work to address them.

Giving Evidence has been working on this for some years, with a US-based foundation, Tiny Beam Fund. Strikingly, its settlor, Dr Carmen Lee, is an academic librarian so knows about making information findable! Much of the work that we have done together seems to be ground-breaking but could usefully be replicated in almost any sector. I’ll here explain our various endeavours.

The impacts of industrial farm animal production, where animals spend their entire lives in pens too small to even turn around, could lead to the next global pandemic.

Carmen’s focus is tackling negative effects (especially in low-income countries) of industrial farm animal production (IFAP) – battery hens, pigs, cattle etc., Many of them spend their entire lives in pens too small to even turn around, stuffed with antibiotics which get into the water system, are thus consumed by all of us, which raises antibiotic resistance, ‘widely considered to be the next global pandemic‘.

Carmen says: ‘Tackling IFAP is poorly understood. It is not an established field with well-travelled paths. It is more like a mediaeval map with lots of space marked ‘here be dragons’. We don’t want to fund daredevils who just jump in to grapple with the monsters. Instead, it is hugely important for everyone to gain a deep, nuanced understanding of the complex contexts and problems. So we decided to fund the systematic acquisition of this understanding.

Read the full article about fighting factory farming by Caroline Fiennes at Giving Evidence.