Briefing Note: Risks and Resilience

Will Birmingham and other towns and cities in the UK have sufficient safe, nutritious food in the future?

This (brief) Briefing Note on the matter is for all those people with a statutory duty under the Civil Contingencies Act to assess risk and have a resilience plan in place.

If you’d like more information about the risks themselves, do read our report on Global Risks to UK Food Supplies. This is a timely reminder of the challenges facing the UK — and that’s without any consideration of the effect of a Brexit on our food supplies.

The collocation of these risks in this one Report makes a compelling argument for radical change.

UK policy makers at a national and regional level need to take these major risks into consideration when drawing up their resilience plans. In the Global Risks Report, we therefore made these three sets of urgent recommendations:

Recommendation 1
To change the social, economic and environmental context to drive population behaviour change, as outlined in the Chief Medical Officer’s Report 2018. Specifically, we recommend:

  • Fiscal measures to promote sustainable viable profit margins in agricultural production, wholesale and retail of fresh produce.
  • Limits of the use of land, soil, water and energy for the production of products of low nutritional value; e.g. currently 6% of the UK potato crop is used to make crisps for PepsiCo alone, raising questions about the best use of the UK and the world’s increasingly limited agricultural resources
  • Changes in land use as recommended in the Climate Change Committee report Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change

Recommendation 2
To restrain corporate vested interested from using the increasingly scarce UK and global resources of land, soils, water and energy to make and promote products with zero or close to zero nutritional value. In the UK many, but not all of these vested interests can be identified through the VAT system.

Recommendation 3
To set up a UK Food Security Institute as recommended in our horizon scanning report Back from the Future.

In making these recommendations, we draw attention to responsibilities under Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and of the definition of food security made in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security (1996), and that ethical considerations need to be an integral part of local and national resilience planning.


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