UK sees food security as key global challenge

Posted by Isobel Drake on 22nd July 2009

A new report from the UK has shone the light on the current food security situation and called for greater action to deal with the threat.

“If people go hungry then political stability goes out of the window,” according to the Rt Hon Michael Jack – the Chairman of the Committee publishing the report on behalf of  the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). “This is a key lesson that Defra must learn from last year’s food price hike when some countries ran short of food. What happened showed just how fine the line is between full supermarket shelves and empty stomachs.”

The report emphasised that producing sufficient food is only part of the challenge. How food is produced is equally important.Increasing production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a difficult task, but one which must be achieved. Importantly, the consumer needs to be engaged to ensure a long-term vision can materialise.

The report added that trade between nations must not be quelled despite calls for a reduction due to the notion of ‘food miles’. Efficiency must be driven around the world to meet the requirements of a hungry world.

The Committee highlighted a fear that major companies may be purchasing large chunks of agricultural land overseas to grow food specifically for their home market. Such a phenomenon is likely to add pressure toe the global food system over time, they said.

Julian Hunt, the Director of Communications for the Food and Drink Federation – which represents food and beverage manufacturers in the region, agreed that more needed to be done to encourage sustainable production for the good of future generations.
“Like the EFRA Committee, we believe it is critical that we build on our sector’s inherent strengths by developing a clear vision for production in this country – one that places food and drink manufacturing at the heart of all Government thinking,” he stated. “We need a policy framework that recognises sustainable food production as a top Government priority in its own right and provides clear support for our sector – both in terms of words and deeds – which we believe will help to attract the skills and investment required to enhance our productive potential.”

“In particular, we agree with the Committee that Government should show some leadership by providing more public funding for the food and farming research that will provide the innovation we will need to meet future challenges.”