ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (231/08) issued by
The Government News Network on 17 July 2008
A debate on how to
continue to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of food in the
future has today been launched by Hilary Benn.
Publishing a new Defra discussion paper, "Ensuring the
UK's food security in a changing world", Hilary Benn
stressed that, while the UK was currently secure in its food
supply, it was important to consider whether the UK food supply
chain is sufficiently resilient to deal with short term shocks and
sufficiently strong to face long term challenges.
The paper - which will feed into a more detailed statement on
food security policy expected later this year - poses five key
questions for the public and industry to comment on. In particular
the Government is keen to hear the views of the agricultural
sector, consumer groups and food retailers. To this end Defra will
be holding a series of meetings, workshops and events to encourage discussion.
The paper also suggests a set of indicators that could be used in
the future to assess food security. Views are being invited on
these indicators and how they could be used.
Hilary Benn said:
"The UK currently has a secure food supply. In fact we are
more self-sufficient now than we were in the 1950s. But recent
food price rises across the world have shone a light on the
challenges all countries face in ensuring food supplies at
reasonable prices, particularly as the global population rises and
the impacts of climate change and rising oil prices are felt.
"That's why it's sensible to think about the
impact of these challenges so that we can plan effectively for the
future and identify any further steps that may be needed, bearing
in mind that as well as domestic production - which is very
important - we also rely on being able to import food."
The analysis of the UK food chain contained in the paper shows
that the situation in the UK cannot be viewed in isolation. UK and
global food security are interlinked, particularly in relation to
world food markets and international energy supplies.
However, UK agriculture has a vital contribution to make to food
security both in Britain and internationally. The paper outlines
the importance of the sector to the UK economy and its role in
managing Britain's unique landscape and biodiversity.
The key questions posed in the report are:
1. Whether Defra has correctly identified the challenges facing
global and UK food security.
2. What the views of the food industry and wider public are about
the action the UK Government is taking globally and domestically
to address these challenges and ensure food security.
3. What further role the agricultural, retail, and food service
sectors can play in ensuring UK food security.
4. Whether the food security indicators cover the right areas and
measure the right things.
5. What steps we should take together if the indicators suggest
there is a problem.
The five key indicators of food supply are:
1. global availability;
2. diversity of supply;
4. affordability; and
5. safety and confidence.
The report also includes a broad consideration of the factors
that contribute to food security and historical and future trends.
Notes to editors
1. "Ensuring UK food security in a changing world" is
available on the Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/foodstrategy/security.htm
2. To take part in the debate, e-mail
email@example.com. The closing date for
contributions is 15 September 2008.
3. The views Defra receives on this discussion document and from
a series of planned workshops and stakeholder events will inform a
more detailed statement of food security policy that Defra intends
to publish later in the year.
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