Past Events


CANCELLED November 24: A Discussion on GM Crops and Their Place in Food Systems

Thursday 24th November 2016

Is there a role for GM crops in sustainable food systems?

Charles Darwin House, London

Public concerns around GM crops and foods have led to national and EU policies which have placed a moratorium on the cultivation of GM crops, though not research of GM crops, or the use of GM crops in feed of farmed animals raised and consumed within the EU.

Stereotypically, the GM debate is highly polarised, comprising pro-GM biotechnologists and businesses or anti-GM groups spanning ecologists on one side, and a wide range of nongovernmental organisations and public advocacy groups on the other. What is often lost in this polarised debate is the urgent need to produce our food more sustainably, and that the most healthy food options are encouraged.

This discussion aims to avoid polarisation and enable an openminded discussion to achieve greater objectivity regarding the question: can GM crops help deliver more sustainable and resilient farm and food systems?

There will be presentations by:
– Colin Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, James Hutton Institute
– Geoff Tansey, Writer, Consultant & Trustee of Food Ethics Council

Then feedback from an expert panel comprising:
– Kathryn Green, Sustainability Manager, Linking Environment & Farming (LEAF)
– Wendy Harwood, Senior Scientist, Crop genetics, John Innes Centre
– Chris Warburton Brown, Research Coordinator, Permaculture Association

Followed by an “Open House” session: questions from the floor.

There will be a cheese and wine reception: after the end of formal discussions.

When: Thursday, 24 November 2016 from 14:00 to 17:30 (GMT)
Where: British Ecological Society – Darwin House 12 Roger St, London, WC1N 2JU


Friday 14th October 2016

Agro-ecology Early Careers Event: Roles of Ecologists in Agriculture

Charles Darwin House, London

Wondering where careers in agro-ecology lead after a PhD?

Join us at our early careers event to hear from four established scientists about the diverse roles of ecology in agriculture, and find out what possibilities await you!

We would like to invite researchers to submit abstracts to present talks and posters at the event.  It will be a great chance for sharing ideas and networking with other early career researchers.

Please submit abstracts to, click to register

Friday 23rd September 2016

Rewilding in abandoned agricultural landscapes: opportunities and impacts

Rewilding meeting of the British Ecological Society’s Agricultural Ecology and Forest Ecology special interest groups, co-sponsored by Earthwatch Institute and the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests. University of Oxford, Abandonment of marginally productive land is taking place at an unprecedented scale worldwide. This rapid form of land-use change has uncertain implications for ecosystem services, including carbon storage and water regulation, nitrogen cycling and soil integrity. Rewilding has been identified as an conservation opportunity for abandoned agricultural land, but such initiatives may have uncertain outcomes for the biodiversity and cultural heritage of semi-natural landscapes, which often have an ancient human management legacy. The meeting will present evidence around the opportunities and risks of land- these use changes for former agricultural landscapes. Our debate will identify how the greatest benefits of agricultural abandonment can be realised, while identifying areas where this process has the potential to cause environmental harm. The meeting will encourage dialogue towards developing a new framework to identify and protect such vulnerable areas from future changes.

Rewilding meeting flyer

Event Cancelled: Thursday 19th May 12 – 6pm

A Conversation About Food, With Food

Registration is now live!

Location: 258-274 Gray’s Inn Rd, London WC1X 8LH

The Calthorpe Project is a green community garden in the heart of Kings Cross (). The local community members grow organic vegetables and the site is a vibrant community centre. In particular, there is a new initiative, A living lab: A closed-loop waste-energy-food system, is in operation which aims to integrate research, education, community development, enterprise and public policy in one site. There is a growing interest in urban agriculture and in community approaches to urban food security and urban sustainability. The BES and the Calthorpe project invite you to come to visit this newly set up ‘living lab’. Also, led by their talented chefs from the community café, participants will cook an organic meal with some ingredients harvested from the garden. While cooking, urban growers will open up a discussion about the challenges and opportunities associated with urban food sovereignty.

We are delighted to announce that archaobotanist John Letts will be with us talking about heritage flours made from traditional grains and the importance of diversity for resilience to climate change and disease. If the weather is suitable we will be baking Pizza made from his flours in the Calthorpe outdoor pizza oven. Afterwards we will eat! Music provided by local musicians.

Tickets are £20. Book your place – places are limited!

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