An Agricultural Revolution next?

Over the past few years we have seen growing evidence to suggest that the UK needs to pay more attention to growing food to ensure food security for future generations. An article in the Daily Telegraph earlier this year urges "It's time to get back to the land" and quotes Tim Lang one of the country's top food academics "We are sleep walking into a major food crisis". Whilst 'Professor Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientist forecasts "a perfect storm" as population growth, diminishing resources and climate change create shortages in food, water and energy. Our generation may be the last, as well as the first, to take food supplies for granted.'

In July 2009 the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the UK should produce more food, more sustainably. The report said " While the UK’s population will not increase on the same scale as some other countries, the UK is part of a global food system and population growth elsewhere in the world will inevitably affect our ability to secure our own food supplies."

Jay Rayner, food critic, argued the case for 'big agriculture' in yesterday's Observer and said "You have to go back to 1816 to find a serious British food riot, the year after an Indonesian volcano erupted cancelling summer and blighting the global crop. Today, food riots are what happen in Thailand, Mexico or, as we reported last week, Mozambique, where seven people died in protests over a 30% hike in the price of bread. The question is whether the circumstances which led to that murderous bout of civil unrest have any implications for Britain. Too often, we regard ourselves as mere observers and commentators rather than potential participants in the dramas surrounding the complexities of food security. Until a few years ago, this was British government policy. A Cabinet Office document, nicknamed by Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, the "leave it to Tesco report", argued that we are a rich developed nation which could buy its way out of any supply crisis on the global market".

Tim Lang was asking in 2008 in another article, this time in the Guardian, why we are using other's land to grow food we could grow here "we need to emulate the French and the US and unashamedly rebuild growing capacity here, too. It's dropping fast from a peak in the mid 1980s when we produced 80% of foods consumed here that could be grown here. Now it's near 60%." Jay Rayner suggests it might be nearer 50% now in mid-2010.

Further arguments can be viewed on the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council's Blog and website.

THIS is why we want Broadland District Council and their partners to re-consider building on agricultural land. This land could, and should, be feeding the UK's population.not the developers' pockets.

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