In the light of recent UK and global events, the issue of long-term food security has never been more urgent, according to the independent body, the Guild of Food Writers.

With the heavy reliance of UK agriculture and food supplies on oil and other inputs and the ongoing foot and mouth crisis that may resurge with the coming cold weather, the Guild believes the issue of sustainable agriculture and food supply in the UK must rise on the Government’s agenda.

Experts from across the food and farming industries will be arguing whether organic food and farming hold the answer at the Guild’s national debate on Monday 1 October, 2001. The Guild is asking Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, to address the issue urgently.

The London event, Organics – Luxury or Necessity? features fifteen high-profile experts including Professor Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, Geoffrey Hollis, former MAFF official and writer on food and environmental issues, Patrick Holden, director of The Soil Association and South East Green MEP, Caroline Lucas.

Caroline Conran, chairman of the Guild of Food Writers, which has 350 food writing and broadcasting members, says: “Recent global events have only reinforced the need for the UK to look at the sustainability of its agriculture and food policies.

“We need to be tackling this issue so that we, and future generations can weather likely future food crises. There is a school of thought that organic agriculture can offer us a more sustainable future. It may be that what many now regard as a luxury, is actually a necessity for lower-reliance on imported chemicals and for the protection of both people and the environment. Our debate will consider this.”

A panel of experts will cross-examine witnesses from both sides of the debate on crucial issues such as  – Is organic farming practical on a large scale? Is the planet threatened by current methods of food production? Are organic foods just an expensive con? Sir John Krebs is one of this panel and takes part in an Any Questions? session, taking questions from the floor with other leading experts in farming, environment, food security and food production.

The forum runs from 2pm to 6.30pm at The Langham Hilton Hotel in Portland Place, London W1, UK. The event is receiving support from Sainsbury’s and organic food company, Seeds of Change. For more details please click here.

NB managing editor Catherine Sleep will be present at the event, and would be delighted to meet any subscribers who attend.