Food has shot up the political agenda for most countries in the last couple of years, as food prices rise, food riots increase, and more people go hungry (G8 Leaders statement on Food Security July 08). Politicians who previously took food for granted now realise our future is at stake. BBC programme "Our Food Our Future" outlines how we got to where we are now.
Food Security has been a major world issue since the 1943 Conference @ Hot Springs. "Food Security" according to FAO (1996 World Food Summit) "is at the individual, household, national, regional and global levels [is achieved] when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”
DEFRA's Food for the Future - Food 2030, UK's first food security assessment, is a package of material on the future of our food system, that "discusses issues ranging from how we can create a sustainable food system locally and globally, to the challenges of rising global demand for food and the ways in which food contributes to greenhouse gas emissions." It follows Select Committee recommendations (see below) closely. Join DEFRAs Discussion of Food 2030. See detailed Commentary
"Prices for grains and meat are down from the peaks of mid-2008, but are 30-50% above their averages over the past decade. There is reason to believe that this strength is more than just another of the many bubbles that have recently inflated, only to pop." Ecomomist Mar 09
6 criteria by which food security should be measured are:
Availability, which is to do with production, supply and so on;
Parliamentary debate (June 3 2008) on Food Security
Chatham House report (Feb 2009) Food Futures: Rethinking UK Strategy says: "Over the next few decades, the global food system will come under renewed pressure from the combined effects of seven fundamental factors: population growth, the nutrition transition, energy, land, water, labour and climate change" and that "The UK can no longer afford to take its food supply for granted."
Britain is 60% self-sufficient in all foods, rising to 73% if you look at foods that actually can be grown in this country...Changes over last couple of decades..
Can UK Food Security be guaranteed by maintaining a wide diversity of supply chains, should we produce more, and are some of those supply chains vulnerable? It is clear that many countries and institutions are not going to rely on the market for food supplies in the future; they are going to buy or lease land - called landgrabbing.
China, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others have been scouring the globe in search of arable land to buy or to lease for the production of crops for food or biofuels. Some of the deals involve more than a million acres. But there is more to it than just land, there is also the logic underlying the transactions. This is not land that is being primarily acquired to produce crops to sell on the world market or to feed the local population. These crops are to be sent back to the nation that has acquired the land. The investing nation is taking over land and, with it, the soil fertility and the water that are needed to cultivate crops so that its people back home can have food to eat and fuel to put into their cars. Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, calls this landgrabbing 'Neocolonialism'. Landgrab Resource Page has up to date links for all countries. Farmlandgrab keeps daily dossier of events.
UK companies have already grabbed about 200,000 heactares of land in Africa mainly for biofuels production. Bidwells are part of a bid to gain control of $300m worth of Eastern Europen land. LandKom International lease large tracts of land in Ukraine (more). Map of UK's landgrabbing, originally in 'Land Grab' (IFPRI) where there are flags from all over theworld as to who is landgrabbing what/where.
GRAIN in Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security says:"Today’s food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global land grab. On the one hand, “food insecure” governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snatching up vast areas of farmland abroad for their own offshore food production. On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmland as an important new source of revenue".
Oakland Institute The Great Land Grab: Rush for World’s Farmland Threatens Food Security for the Poor, spells out the roleof financial institutions in enabling 35-40 mil acres to be landgrabbed.
Japan have ideas of their own and are looking at regions in Southern America and Easern Europe - not to supply themselves, but in order to sell crops on the global food market - particularly soya to China. More from FT
World Bank is to set up Accessing Land Indicator by 2010, to "help us understand how easily foreign investors can access land they are interested in leasing and what protections are in place both for investors and for the country and its citizens".
FAO The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008 says "a comprehensive twin-track approach is required to address the impact of high food prices on hunger: (i) measures to enable the agriculture sector to respond to the high prices; and (ii) targeted safety nets and social protection programmes for the most food-insecure and vulnerable".
USDA Assessment of World Food Security 2009 (Food-insecure people are defined as those consuming less than the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day per person.)
Keep your eye on our coverage of reports for regular updates.
EFRA Environmental Food & Rural Affairs) Select Committee of MPs' New Inquiry (2009) into the Challenges for the UK in securing food supplies up to 2050. See our page for regular update & easy access for evidence to EFRA.
Smith Institute Report Feeding Britain "examines the often overlooked issue of food production and security in Britain".
Europe and Global Food Security, includes "CAP & GFS" Report para 20 that" Strongly believes that the CAP should be further adapted to meet food-security concerns... and is dissappointed that, in its Health Check proposals, has not fully faced up to the challenge"
Webcam & Summary of Landgrab Conference May 5 '09
Food Security Magazine New 2009
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