UK: Brown sets out food policy blueprint
Consumers wasting less food, making farming in the developing world more efficient and a more joined-up approach to UK food policy on issues from diet to the environment will help tackle the "21st century challenges for food", the UK government said today (7 July).
The Cabinet Office, which spent ten months reviewing UK food policy, today set out the Government's blueprint for meeting growing global demand for food, tackling the industry's impact on the environment and improving the population's diet.
The report insisted the global food supply needs to rise to cater for the world's growing population and to alleviate soaring food prices.
It cited World Bank estimates that suggest cereal production will have to increase by 50% from 2000 levels by 2030. According to the same estimates, meat output will have to climb by 80%.
Less household food waste would help boost supply, the report said, which claimed a third of all food bought for home consumption is wasted.
The report also pointed to the inefficiency of storing and distributing food in the developing world, where it claims up to 40% of the food harvested can be lost.
Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, placed heavy emphasis on boosting agriculture in developing countries as a way of combating rising food prices in the UK and around the world.
"If food production in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world reached its potential, global food output would be much higher, far fewer people would go hungry and the threat of food-related political and social instability around the world would recede," he said.
The report, however, acknowledged the problems of increasing global food production while needing to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment and to combat climate change.
Hilary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the Government, led by its chief scientific adviser Professor John Beddington, will commission a project on future global food production and its implications for the environment.
"By 2050 we will need food for a world population that is wealthier and several billion larger," Benn said. "We will need to do this at the same time as adapting to a warming and less predictable climate. And, in addition, we will need to cut the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production."
On diets in the UK, the report said the UK's Food Standards Agency would work to make it easier for consumers to get "integrated government information and advice on a healthy, environmentally sustainable diet".
The FSA plans to "work with food businesses to improve information and healthier choice options when eating out", the report added.
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