National Food Strategy #6: UK resilience to global risks to food supplies

What should, what can the UK do in the face of the considerable global risks to our food supplies?

Will we have enough safe, nutritious food in the coming years?

The sheer scale of changes needed to tackle the huge, interdependent global risks outlined in the previous blogpost suggest not. A National Food Strategy should set out the radical system change required to increase local food supply resilience in the light of the scale and interdependency of these global risks.

On page 16 of our paper, Global Risks to UK food supplies, we outlined three sets of recommendations for policy-makers at a national and regional level which we will urge the National Food Strategy to take on board:

  1. To change the social, economic and environmental context to drive population behaviour change, as outlined in the Chief Medical Officer’s 2018 Annual Report. Specifically, we recommended:
    * Fiscal measures to promote sustainably viable profit margins in the agricultural production, wholesale and retail of fresh produce
    * Limits on the use of land, water, soil, water and energy for the production of products of low nutritional value; e.g. currently, 6% of the UK potato crop us used to made crisps for PepsiCo alone (data source given in an endnote to the Report), raising questions about the best use of the UK’s and the world’s increasingly limited natural resources.
    * Changes in land use (e.g. for carbon sequestration instead of agriculture) as recommended in the Climate Change Committee report Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change.
  2. To restrain corporate vested interests from using the increasingly scarce UK and global resources of land, water, 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 our current VAT system.
    (See also How the UK VAT system identifies vested interests costing us and the earth and What does this food sector balance sheet tells us?)
  3. To set up a UK Food Security Institute, the first recommendation in our horizon scanning project report, Back from the Future (and of which more in another blogpost in this series).

In making these recommendations we drew attention to Governmental 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 quoted in the second of this series of blogposts, and that ethical considerations needed to be an integral part of local and national resilience planning (on this last point, see our Briefing Note: Risk & Resilience (2019).

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Previous blogposts in this National Food Strategy series are:

#5: Global risks to UK food supplies

#4: The irreconcilables

#3:  The global competition for safe, nutritious food

#2: Responsibility, resilience and ethics

#1: The brief

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