Equally, there is not a simple, linear relationship between evidence and policy; policy creation is complex and involves scientific evidence and economic considerations, as well as value judgements. When we as natural and social scientists look at the policy implications of evidence that we and other groups have collected, we bring both our background as specialists in this field but also our values as individual citizens.
We try to be clear when we are attempting to be dispassionate curators of the evidence base and when we are being informed advocates of particular policies.
On the pages below, we shall also state what we in LEAP think are the main policy implications of our (and others’) work for these different questions. Often within the project we debate the specifics of different policy options.
To give a concrete example, all of us believe that the evidence strongly indicates the need for consumers in high-income countries to eat less meat, in particular ruminant meat. Yet different members of the consortium think differently about the best way to achieve this, whether it’s by advocating and personally adopting “flexitarian”, vegetarian or vegan diets.
Some of our work models the consequences of these different approaches but deciding which is the most appropriate response for an individual, organisation, or country involves considering a very broad array of scientific, social, and political factors.
We hope these pages will help in clarifying the evidence, while leaving individuals to make their own decisions about how they respond, whether as individuals, businesses or policymakers.