Johns Hopkins Global Food Ethics and Policy Program

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The Johns Hopkins Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, a collaboration of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International studies, addresses critical global issues of under- and over-nutrition and diet-related diseases, poverty, inequity and injustice across the food system, and environmental degradation caused by agriculture. The Program serves as a focal point for deepening Johns Hopkins collaborations and partnerships, convening experts and leaders to shape policy, as well as connecting scholars and scientists to the societal players that are shaping the global food system.



By 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people, increasing the demand for food and creating unprecedented stresses on the environment, natural resources, and ecosystems that humans are intricately dependent upon. Underlying this challenge is the unanswered question of how to nourish 9.6 billion people in ways congruent with positive social, health, environmental and economic outcomes. Eight-hundred-million undernourished people are chronically or acutely hungry and another 2.1 billion are overweight or obese. At the same time, the global food system challenges the diversity of ecosystems essential to our lives. Food production is the major emitter of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, as well as the largest user of water resources. With rapid urbanization, population pressures, geopolitical conflicts and fragile, global democracy, and less predictable climate variability and extreme weather events, the stakes are too high to ignore. We need a more equitable, ethical and sustainable global food system.

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Program Team:

Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS
RuthFadenSqRuth Faden, PhD, MPH, Philip Franklin Wagley Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
SaraGlass_CROPSara Glass, RD, Project Manager, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
Alan Goldberg, PhD, Professor of Toxicology; Founding Director (Emeritus), Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
saghaiYashar Saghai, MA, PhD, Research Scholar and Associate Faculty, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
 downs_picShauna Downs, PhD, Hecht-Levi Fellow, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
fox-picElizabeth Fox, PhD, Hecht-Levi Fellow, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
beckymclarenbiopicture2Rebecca McLaren, MD, MPH, Senior Research Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
swartz-picHaley Swartz, MPP, Research Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
cdavisClaire Davis, MA, Administrative Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

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The Global Food Ethics and Policy Program evolved from the success of the Global Food Ethics Project. In 2012, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, along with the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, launched the three-year Global Food Ethics Project to take on the challenge of working through conflicting visions of what it means to feed the world ethically and find a concrete path forward even in the absence of consensus about ethical commitments and values.

The main product of the Global Food Ethics Project was the 7 by 5 Agenda for Ethics and Global Food Security (May 2015). This report was the result of an unprecedented undertaking: gathering a diverse, international, and influential Working Group of experts to build a research and policy agenda for global food ethics that would make a significant, practical contribution to global food security. We put forward seven important and tractable projects to make progress on ethics and global food security in five years. Four of the projects currently under way emerged from the “7 by 5 Agenda” and we are now working on expanding our research program beyond the “7 by 5” (see Thematic Areas).The 7 by 5 project ideas:

  1. Ethical Challenges in Projections of Global Food Demand, Supply, and Prices (see Current Projects)
  2. The Food Sovereignty Movement and the Exceptionality of Food and Agriculture
  3. The Case for the Professionalization of Farming
  4. Global Agricultural Research and Development: Ethics, Priorities, and Funders
  5. Climate-Smart and Climate-Just Agriculture (see Current Projects)
  6. Ethics of Meat Consumption in High-Income and Middle-Income Countries (see Current Projects)
  7. Consumers, Certifications, and Labels: Ethically Benchmarking Food Systems (see Current Projects)

For more details on the project and its products, visit The Global Food Ethics Project.

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The Program builds the capacity of the next generation of educators, policymakers, and development practitioners who can provide leadership related to sustainable food systems and ethics. Training and skill sets need to reflect global trends and drivers across increasingly interconnected food systems.

Academic Courses
• Global Food Ethics (700.630.01)
• Rural Development: Issues for 21st Century Livelihoods (SA.400.777.01)

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Food and Environmental Ethics


The Program generates and disseminates new scientific evidence and new ethics scholarship with political and societal relevance regarding food systems and challenges that the food system faces. These politically and socially relevant challenges pertain to climate and environment, social equity and justice, population growth, rapid urbanization and transformation.

Policy and Development

The Program provides guidance and foresight on ethical, political, social, health and nutrition issues connected to food systems. This policy and development work aims to create innovative and sustainable solutions for more equitable food security.

Collaborative Approach

The Program’s unique niche is its trans-disciplinary approach that includes perspectives from the science, ethics, policy, and practitioner communities. Practitioners must deliver on-the-ground solutions to ensure that policymakers, farmers and communities benefit from the best science and technology. Moving toward the ultimate goal of building sustainable food systems, the Program will engage with the agriculture, ecology, health, and nutrition communities, civil society, social movements, and industry to capitalize on inter-sectoral synergies and minimize trade-offs. By working across disciplines and sectors, the Program will identify and investigate research questions at the frontier of the complex, often ethical issues underlying food system sustainability.


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Thematic Focus Areas:

The activities undertaken in the Program seek to generate solutions that address food system challenges while shedding light on how to feed the world well and ethically. The Program focuses its research, education, and policy work across four thematic areas:

Agriculture and Food Systems

Agriculture faces many challenges, making it more and more difficult to achieve its primary objective – feeding the world – each year. Population growth and changes in diet associated with rising incomes drive greater demand for food and other agricultural products, while global food systems are increasingly threatened by land degradation, climate change, and other stressors. Uncertainties exist about regional and local impacts of climate change, but the overall global pattern suggests that the stability of the food system will be at significant risk due to short-term variability in food supply. The Program will perform research to inform policy action on context-specific, ethically defensible solutions that transcend small- to large-scale farming in the rural context and the convergence of rural to urban center food systems.

Related Projects:

Ethics, Politics, Knowledge and Our Planet’s Food Futures

Planetary Boundaries of Global Animal Food Production and Consumption: Decision Making Tools for Social Change in Diverse Food Systems

Environment and Climate

A related question is how increased food production and meeting the increased demand for diverse diets will affect the environment, including the impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water resources, biodiversity conservation and the planetary ecosystem more broadly. The global food system is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, contributing 34% of the total. Ways to decrease emissions from deforestation, agricultural practices, and the processing, transport, and waste of food are among the most important challenges we face. The Program works with regional and national partners and other stakeholders around the ethical significance of these challenges. The purpose of this collaboration is to establish innovative, ethically-sensitive metrics and models to understand how changes in supply and demand influence environment and ecosystem indicators.

Related Projects:

Climate-Smart and Climate-Just Agriculture

Conflict & Food and Water Resources

Nutrition and Health

As many as two billion people around the globe are affected by the double burden of obesity and chronic undernutrition, which arises from urbanization, demographic shifts, and changing dietary and lifestyle patterns. Increasing rates of obesity in both the developed and developing world require an urgent response to address the rise of non-communicable diseases. These increasing rates also place particular demands on food and public health systems.  Well-crafted responses from local farmers, international health workers, the global food industry, and governments are badly needed, but some possible responses raise challenging ethical issues. Many countries still face a significant burden of chronic undernutrition of young children, adolescent girls, and women, which require social justice action. The Program focuses on food-based solutions, as well as global research and policy that embeds nutrition within a wider development framework focused on equity.

Related Projects:

Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture & Livelihoods

Sustainable Food Systems & Diets

Ethics, Social Justice and Democracy

The debate about feeding the world well and sustainably is deeply rooted in ethics. At its core, this debate engages a range of compelling ethical values that need to be constantly critically evaluated, explicated, and specified in various contexts. These values are vast in scope: in the context of human welfare, they include the promotion of individual and public health; assurance of economic wellbeing; and respect for individual freedoms and cultural traditions. Also important is the engagement of an active citizenry and food social movements that foster collective control over food and agricultural policy. With respect to planetary and animal wellbeing, ethical values include protection of the environment and minimization of animal suffering. These ethical values frequently come into conflict in the formulation of potential solutions. At the same time, the burdens of health, such as undernutrition and overweight and obesity, and of climate change and environmental degradation, fall disproportionately on the world’s most disadvantaged people and groups, including poor women and children and the rural poor. Such complex issues underscore the need to pay careful, scholarly attention to the ethics of the current state of the global food system and of proposals to improve it, as well as the need to articulate the broader ethical landscape, which draws upon ethical theory, political and social philosophy, justice theory, and philosophy of science.

Related Projects:

Consumers, Certifications, and Labels: Ethically Benchmarking Food Systems

Global Food Ethics Project


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Current Projects:

Yashar Saghai, MA, PhD, Principal Investigator, Hecht-Levi Post-Doctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
Duration: 2016 – 2019

Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS

Laura Caulfield, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator, Professor, Program in Human Nutrition, Center for Human Nutrition and Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

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Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Principal Investigator, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS
Duration: 2016 – 2018

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Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Principal Investigator, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS

Shauna Downs, Hecht-Levi Fellow, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University

In partnership with George Washington University
Duration: 2013 – 2018

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Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Principal Investigator, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics & SAIS
Duration: 2014 – 2016

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Alan Goldberg, PhD, Principal Investigator, Professor of Toxicology; Founding Director (Emeritus), Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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In the Media and Publications

News Roundups

Sign up for our weekly News Roundups. These include project updates, blog posts and a selection of recent program-related articles. The articles are not intended to reflect the views of the Global Food Ethics And Policy Program team but are meant to inform the reader of media attention regarding the subject. Visit our News Roundup Archive to take a look at past mailings and Join our mailing list to receive News Roundups in your inbox.

Blog Posts and Web Publications

Media Coverage and Interviews

Books and Peer-reviewed Articles

Fanzo, J., and Graziose, M. (2017). Developing Capacity in Nutrition. In Nutrition and Health in a Developing World (pp. 67-88). Springer International Publishing.

Fanzo, J., Downs, S., Marshall, Q., de Pee, S., and Bloem, M. W. (2017). Value Chain Focus on Food and Nutrition Security. In Nutrition and Health in a Developing World (pp. 753-770). Springer International Publishing.

Kraemer, K., Cordaro, J.B., Fanzo, J., et al. (2016) “Good nutrition: perspectives for the 21st century.” Karger, Basel.

Downs, S. (2016) “The multiple burdens of malnutrition.” Sight and Life. 30(1): 41-46.

Fanzo, J. (2016) “Non-communicable diseases, food systems and the sustainable development goals.” Sight and Life. 30(1): 34-40.

Lipton, Michael, and Y. Saghai. (2016) “Farmland-access ethics, land reform, and food ethics.” Global Food Security. Published Online First (May 4, 2016).

Goldberg, A. (In press) Farm Animal Welfare and Human Health. Current Environmental Health Reports.

Thow, A. M., Fanzo, J., and Negin, J. (2016)A Systematic Review of the Effect of Remittances on Diet and Nutrition. Food and Nutrition Bulletin 0379572116631651.

Gustafson, D., Gutman, A., Leet, W., Drewnowski, A., Fanzo, J., and Ingram, J. (2016)Seven Food System Metrics of Sustainable Nutrition Security. Sustainability 8 (3): 196.

Wilkinson, J. (2015)Food Security and the Global Agrifood System: Ethical Issues in Historical and Sociological Perspective. Global Food Security 7: 9-14.

Fanzo, Jessica. (2015)Ethical Issues for Human Nutrition in the Context of Global Food Security and Sustainable Development. Global Food Security 7: 15-23.

Lachat, C, Nago, E, Vermeylen, H, Fanzo, J, Mahy, L, and Kolsteren, P (2015) A landscape analysis on nutrition-sensitive agriculture policy development in Senegal. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. Jun;36(2):154-66.

Fanzo, J, Marshall Q, Dobermann, D, Wong, J, Merchan, RI, Jaber, MI, Souza, A, Verjee, N and Davis, K (2015) Integration of Nutrition Into Extension and Advisory Services: A Synthesis of Experiences, Lessons, and Recommendations.Food and Nutrition Bulletin. Jun;36(2):120-37.

Luckett, B, DeClerck, F, Fanzo, J, Mundorf, A, and Rose, D (2015) Nutritional Functional Diversity: An Indicator to Link Sustainable Agriculture to Healthy Diets.Public Health Nutrition. Sep;18(13):2479-87.

Haddad, L, Achadi, E, Bendech, MA, Ahuja, A, Bhatia, K, Bhutta, Z, Blossner, M, Borghi, E, Colecraft, E, de Onis, M, Eriksen, K, Fanzo, J, Flores-Ayala, R, Fracassi, P, Kimani-Murage, E, Koukoubou, EN, Krasevec, J, Newby, H, Nugent, R, Oenema, S, Martin-Prevel, Y, Randel, J, Requejo, J, Shyam, T, Udomkesmalee, E, and Reddy, KS (2015) The Global Nutrition Report 2014: Actions and Accountability to Accelerate the World’s Progress on Nutrition. Nutr. Apr;145(4):663-71.

Barnhill, A, King, K., Kass, N., and Faden, F. (2014)The Value of Unhealthy Eating and the Ethics of Healthy Eating Policies. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 24 (3): 187-217.

Kass, N., Hecht, K., Paul. A., and Birnbach, K. (2014)Ethics and Obesity Prevention: Ethical Considerations in 3 Approaches to Reducing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. American Journal of Public Health 104 (5): 787-795.

Fanzo, J. (2014)Strengthening the engagement of food and health systems to improve nutrition security: Innovative and equitable solutions to address malnutrition. Global Food Security 3: 183-192.

Wu, Guoyao, Fanzo, J., Miller, D, Pingali, P, Post, M, Steiner, JL, Thalacker-Mercer, AE (2014)Production and supply of high-quality food protein for human consumption: sustainability, challenges and innovations.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1321 (2014) 1–19.

Reinhardt, K., and Fanzo, J. (2014). Addressing chronic malnutrition through multi-sectoral, sustainable approaches: a review of the causes and consequences.Frontiers in Nutrition, 1, 13.

Johnston, J., Fanzo, J., & Cogill, B. (2014). Understanding Sustainable diets: Past, present and future efforts to advance sustainable diets.In: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 63: 1063-1063.

Remans, R., Flynn, D., Fanzo, J., Declerck, F., Lambrecht, I., Sullivan, C., Gaynor, K., Siriri, D., Mudiope, J., Mutuo, P., Nkhoma P., and Palm C. (2011) Assessing Nutritional Diversity of Cropping Systems in African Villages.PLoS ONE 6(6):e21235. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021235

Fanzo, J. and Pronyk, P. (2011) Road map to 2015: Reviewing global progress towards the Millennium Development Goal One Hunger Target. UN FNB 32(2): 144-158.

DeClerk, F., Fanzo, JC, Remans, R. and Palm, C.A., and Deckelbaum, R. (2011) Ecological Approaches to Human Nutrition. UN FNB 32(1): 41S-50S.



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