The timing is right for the Government to address its risk of “complacency” over rising global demand for food as the UK’s ability to feed itself has slipped further, industry figures said.
A report published this week by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (EFRA) calls for a more co-ordinated approach to food security within government.
After hearing that “at least three” Government departments are responsible for food security, EFRA chairman Anne McIntosh, the Conservative MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, said: “Complacency is a genuine risk to future UK food security. If we want our food production and supply systems to be secure, government and food producers must plan to meet the impacts of climate change, population growth and increasing global demand for food.”
The report calls for “sustainable intensification” - producing more food with fewer resources and called on the Government to stem the decline in UK self-sufficiency. A Defra spokesman rejected claims of complacency, saying the Government was committed to delivering recommendations in the 2011 Foresight report into future food production.
But the report was backed by the CLA’s regional director Dorothy Fairburn. “We need to be able to produce more food to feed a growing population and we welcome the positive stance in today’s report on innovation and technology, particular on GM. As the report rightly states, the EU decision making process is too restrictive and will leave the UK and the EU trailing behind the rest of the world.”
Meanwhile, the president of the National Farmers’ Union, Meurig Raymond, commented that the report “shines a timely light” on food security issues.
“The UK food system must work better to deliver transparency and traceability through; shorter supply chains, fair distribution of margin, better information sharing across food businesses (from farm to pack) and a joined up approach to managing volatility and risk in order to safe-guard the longer-term resilience of UK food,” Mr Raymond said.