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Call for concerted action over national food wastage

July 2013

Concerted action against food wastage in the UK and an expansion of the government’s bilateral nutrition programmes have been urged by British MPs.

The parliamentary international development committee issued a global food security report as world leaders gathered for last month’s international nutrition summit hosted by the UK government.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the committee, said: “There is no room for complacency about food security over the coming decades if UK consumers are to enjoy stable supplies and reasonable food prices.

“UK aid to help smallholders increase food production in the developing world is of direct benefit to UK consumers as rising world food prices will reduce living standards of hard-pressed UK consumers. There is … considerable scope for the government to launch a national consumer campaign to reduce domestic food waste within the UK food production and retail sectors, with clear sanctions for companies that fail to meet these targets.”

Food availability worldwide, however, is being compromised and food prices are becoming higher and more volatile because of the use of agriculturally produced biofuels, a trend intended to bring environmental benefits, the committee said.

It predicted EU targets requiring 10% of transport energy to be drawn from renewable sources by 2020 could raise food prices dramatically because biofuel plants and trees displace food crops – some of which provide power generation more damaging than fossil fuels.

The MPs proposed that agricultural products should be excluded from the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation requiring fossil fuel suppliers to confirm that a percentage of their road transport fuel is renewable.

They then asked why the international department worked bilaterally in 29 countries but ran nutrition programmes in only 16 of them. They want the government to expand its coverage.

A second demand from the MPs was for the department to explain why it failed to fund social protection programmes in 14 of the 29 countries, even though this measure protects the food security of the poorest against price rises.

Another worry was that in developing countries corporations are buying large areas previously farmed by smallholders. The committee recommended that UK corporations must be transparent about land deals.

It emphasised that smallholder farmers had a vital role in feeding the world’s population, projected to reach 9.3bn by 2050.

It therefore asked the government to increase funding for agricultural services, especially to help women, and the formation of inclusive farmer organisations and co-operatives, enabling smallholders to work with large companies and markets.  

UK & NI Ireland | Food Poverty


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