Liz Truss needs to change our food system

25 July 2014

Newly appointed Environment Secretary Liz Truss has a lot of work to do in order to re-think our broken food system.

We are urging her to:

Tackle farm animal cloning

  • Under her predecessor, Owen Paterson, Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) opposed restrictions on cloning despite the huge animal suffering involved. Liz Truss needs to abandon Defra’s opposition to the European Commission’s proposals for a ban on cloning and the sale of food from clones. She needs to press the EU to also ban the use of the offspring of clones in EU farming and the sale of food from the offspring of clones or, at least, require food from cloned animals to be labelled.

Call for honest labelling

  • Abandon Defra’s opposition to mandatory method of production labelling for meat and dairy products so consumers can make informed choices about what they buy.
  • Support the labelling of unstunned meat so consumers can decide whether or not they want to eat meat from an animal that was not stunned before slaughter.

Do more for pasture-based dairy

  • Promote pasture-based dairy farming where cows can graze and not support zero-grazing farms where cows are kept confined indoors all year-round.

Re-think ‘sustainable intensification’

  • Recognise that the term “sustainable intensification” has become limiting and divisive.  Defra tends to place more emphasis on the ‘intensification’ part of the term, frequently giving scant attention to ‘sustainable’.  All too often “sustainable intensification” is seen by Defra as simply meaning more industrial farming. 


Defra should work to develop a new food system that:

  • Recognises that factory farming, which is dependent on feeding huge amounts of grain to animals - is a desperately inefficient uses of resources.  For every 100 calories fed to animals in the form of human-edible cereals just 17-30 calories are delivered for human consumption as meat or dairy products.  Animals should be reared on pasture or in integrated crop/livestock systems where the animals are fed on crop residues.
  • Is able to feed the growing world population in a way that does not undermine, and indeed restores, natural resources (e.g. soil, water, biodiversity, ecosystem services) on which we and future generations depend in order to produce food.
  • Produces healthy nutritious food.

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