Minister backtracks on 'Sustainable Intensification'

28 August 2012

The Government appears to have taken a step back from a commitment to 'intensive sustainability' in farming following comments made by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food.

On publication of the Government's 'Green Food Project' findings, which examine sustainable food production in England, Jim Paice MP said:

"Some say the answer is sustainable intensification, but there is a lot of disagreement about what that might mean."

In January 2011, Defra responded to a Foresight Report, 'The Future of Food and Farming', with a pledge to "ensure the UK leads the way on sustainable intensification of agriculture."

In response, we launched the 'Gobbledygook' campaign to put pressure on the government to consider the implications of this commitment.

Compassion argued that 'sustainable intensification' was a euphemism for factory farming which is responsible for very poor welfare of animals and is dependent on using enormous areas of land to grow large quantities of cereals and soy solely for animal feeds. This system is unsustainable in terms of water use, the environment and global food security.

In May 2012, following months of campaigning, Compassion delivered a petition with over 4,000 signatories to Defra calling on the government to abandon plans for intensification and instead to promote higher welfare indoor and free-range systems.

As recently as May 24th Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman was advocating sustainable intensification in a speech to the Food and Drinks Association. However it would appear that just a few months on, the Government's enthusiasm for the term, at least, may have waned.

Dil Peeling, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming said:

"At Compassion we are delighted that, thanks to pressure from our supporters, the Government is reconsidering this misguided, unsustainable idea."


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