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Food security Report – a missed opportunity?

News Icon 22/01/2015

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament has today issued a Report into “Food Security: Demand, Consumption and Waste”. What a disappointment it is! (A “waste” of time itself?)

Whilst recommending that supermarkets and consumers do more to reduce food waste and making general remarks about encouraging healthier diets, the Report totally fails to deliver even one significant challenge to current government policy. With a General Election in the offing, this would have been an opportune moment to challenge ALL political parties to do more to promote healthier eating patterns.

Instead the main advice to consumers is to “buy British” with a specific nod to the Red Tractor scheme, which has singularly failed to promote and ensure high welfare standards amongst its producers (although of course some of its producers have chosen to adopt higher standards anyway). Buying British can mean higher welfare, like grass-fed beef, but it can also include factory-farmed chicken and pork! How appalling of the Committee to ignore this fact, especially when the UK, like all EU countries has, under the Lisbon Treaty, a duty “since animals are sentient beings”, to pay “full regard” to their welfare requirements.

No definition of healthy diets is given. Yet we know that DEFRA is sitting on an agreed set of Principles of a Healthy, Sustainable Diet – a result of a consultation in which Compassion in World Farming took an active role. These Principles sit on someone’s desk within DEFRA. They would have encouraged consumption of more plant-based diets and reduced meat consumption. It seems this is too challenging a prospect for our politicians!

Yet as my own book, Farmageddon, showed, factory farming is destroying life in so many ways:

  • Dislodging poor farmers from their lands in South America in order to grow vast amounts of soya – just to feed factory farmed animals
  •  Creating terrible problems of pollution from factory farm effluent and from the chemicals used to grow the crops-that-feed-the-animals
  • Destroying biodiversity globally – once common farmland birds at an all-time low in Europe
  • Using the earth’s precious resources of land and water – not to feed people, but to feed animals in factory farms
  • Forcing animals like dairy cows to produce unnaturally huge quantities of milk, resulting in serious health and welfare problems.

Reading this bland report really makes me angry. It contains plenty of useful information but no challenging recommendations. Even the fact that food banks are being used more and more by people on low incomes leads it to no great recommendations except for government to work with the charities involved in this area to “monitor trends” in food poverty. That’s reassuring to those who go to bed hungry at night in our green and pleasant land!

However, at Compassion we like nothing better than a challenge ourselves! We shall work ever harder and with even greater focus to lobby the powers-that-be, to work with farmers, retailers and the food industry to promote higher welfare methods and to encourage the adoption of healthy diets that are more plant-based and include only those animal products which have come from farms where the animals have been raised to higher welfare standards.

If politicians don’t “get it”, or refuse to get it, then we will trust our growing band of supporters to help us get the message out to every corner of the country. We know we can trust you!


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