Blog: Dean BestUK government speaks up for trade in food

Dean Best | 10 July 2007

A leading UK politician has joined the debate on the concept of food miles.

Lord Rooker, the UK’s minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, pointed to the country’s growing food and drink exports as proof of the benefits of trade.

“We can’t boast about that while at the same time putting barriers up to trade,” Lord Rooker told the UK’s Food and Drink Federation’s annual parliamentary reception at the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday (9 July).

The debate over food miles has proved a fierce one with proponents arguing that the use of the concept can help consumers gauge the impact of their food consumption on carbon emissions.

As argued in these pages, however, critics of the use of food miles believe that the concept promotes a protectionist agenda and threatens the livelihoods of food exporters in developing countries.

The concept of food miles remains easy for consumers to grasp but, in practice, it is too simplistic and we lose sight of a raft of wider sustainability issues. How does, for instance, the issue of Fair Trade fit into a concept of food miles?

It was heartening to hear a UK government minister espouse his belief in the importance of free trade.


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