The National Food Strategy recognised that “digital technology” has the power to transform the food system for the public good, for instance by creating a safer food environment (improved track and trace), driving the food system to net zero (enabled consumer choice of low carbon cost food), reducing food poverty (high productivity food systems) or reducing food waste (matching food supply to demand).
However, the full potential of a "digital food system” can only be realised if permissioned data can flow across complex supply chains and between multiple commercial (farms to retailers) and regulatory actors (FSA, HMRC). Governing this exchange of data whilst enabling a public good as well as protecting commercial and personal interests remains one of the key challenges across the digital economy.
Our proposed solution are ‘data trust frameworks”, now published in Nature Food http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00346-1. Our solution realises that technology alone is unlikely to transform the food system, transformation requires new modalities of data governance and trusted collaboration.
The article builds on the interdisciplinary work of the EPSRC-funded Internet of Food Things Network Plus and a collaborative project with law firm Pinsent Masons that was funded by the Food Standards Agency.