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Sustainable Food
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WHY "Sustainable" Food?

Look at present state of UK Farming..

The UK needs five times its own the area to provide its food. This 'ecological footprint' works out the land needed to grow and rear our food. It shows the massive inputs and imports needed. The costs on farming are seen in Molly Dineen’s “Lie of the land" and the fact that the UK farm is the most dangerous workplace in Britain. The UK could produce a lot more food. Witness the statement from NFU re Biofuels which says the is 3.5 million tonnes of XS wheat feed and ¾ m hectares of set aside land could be used. Can farmer concerns and sustainability issues be squared?

Everybody in the world is now copying the way we in UK industrialised - by driving pepole off the land and pay them cheaply to work in factories/plantations. The UK has been used to a 'cheap food' policy for 150 years - since the Repeal of the Corn Laws, introduced to enable cheaper food from abroad. It means that there is more concentration of land, more concentration among food manufacturers and more concentration among food retailers than anywhere else in the world.

There are increasing pressures on the land - for fuel, feed and fibre, as more people need to be fed and at a time when there are growing concerns over food and farming's contribution to global warming (for more details, see IPC Conference 2007).

Where do EU Subsidies go?

Environmental pressures have resulted in many environmental schemes for agriculture. Farmers need to fulfill complex requirements (more on SMRs) to get their EU subsidies. Has this made food more “sustainable”? No!The environmental subsidies are aimed for “conservation” projects rather than reducing energy inputs, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

People pay more for their food through the EU subsidy system. Sugar gets a lot of subsidy, as does grain for animal feed (look at who gets what in Farm Subsidy). Yet fruit and vegetables get virtually none. We could use the subsidies to enable more sustainable food, and encourage and recognise the skills of people on the land to produce food more sustainably. That will cost, but it might just save the earth too.

The EU set aside 'Set Aside' in Autumn 2007. This land could produce better food less intensively - yet most will go to winter wheat - as world prices are high. Proposals for CAP post 2012

Examine History of US farming..

Agricultural Ethics examines the history of US agriculture and how its functions change in relation to food, fibre, fuels and forest products, covering many issues dealt with in this site such as social, soil and sustainability.

Sustainable Agriculture could Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries..

Check out Reducing Food Poverty with Sustainable Agriculture: A Summary of New Evidence (Pretty and Hine) Essex University's Environment & Society Uni (full report, 136 pages)
"Sustainable agriculture can be complementary for rural people’s livelihoods. It can deliver increases in food production at relatively low cost, plus contribute to other important functions. Were these approaches to be widely adopted, they would make a significant impact on rural people’s livelihoods, as well as on local and regional food security."

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Copyright 2007 Environmental Practice at Work Publishing Co Ltd