07 January 2010

Food Crisis 'Hidden' from UK Public Say Campaigners

Excerpt from The Ecologist, 6 January 2010

'Government is talking about issues like food security, climate change and oil dependency but failing to take the 'inconvenient' but necessary action says the Soil Association.

Key policy speeches by the UK food and farming minister and Government chief scientist this week fail to admit the changes needed in the food system, according to the leading organic farming body, the Soil Association.

Speaking at the annual Oxford Farming Conference this week, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Hilary Benn, said: 'Food security is as important to this country's future wellbeing - and the world's - as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably.'...

Soil Association director Patrick Holden said neither GM technology, nor increasing food production would provide a long-term solution to tackling the food crisis...

'The constant availability of food draws us into a false sense of security,' Holden said. 'But really we are in a precarious position.

'The rhetoric of Government has changed; climate change, food security and oil and fossil fuel dependency are now all on the agenda but the inconvenient truth is that we if we are to tackle this issue then we will have to take action of the kind they do not want to discuss.

'We must give up nitrogen fertilisers and build soil fertility through crop rotation instead.

'I believe this one move will bring the most far-reaching change in agriculture since the agricultural revolution – and the most important,' he said...

Holden also said consumers would have to face up to paying more for food - something sucessive governments have avoided discussing.

'In the 1970s we spent around 20 per cent of our income on food,' he said. 'That figure has now fallen to around 8-11 per cent...we pay too little for our food.'

Mr Holden added that only an 'informed public debate' on the current food system would bring the necessary changes, something he admitted the Soil Association and society as a whole had 'failed' to achieve.'

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