Eat less meat for greater food security, British population urged

The Guardian – Tuesday 4th June

A new report on global hunger, in advance of World Environment Day, encourages people to eat less meat. Grain is increasingly being grown to feed cattle rather than humans and this is impacting our ability to feed the global population. The SFT strongly supports the International Development Select Committee’s recommendation, but we also need to pay attention to the production of the meat we do eat. We should encourage pasture-based production systems for meat, not intensive production based on large amounts of grain and imported protein. This would bring environmental benefits, and pasture-based meat also has a healthier balance of fatty acids and important micronutrients, so is also better for us.

This is an important report with a wide range of recommendations, which should be taken seriously by the British government. The report also strongly suggests that we should not be producing biofuels on agricultural land that could be growing food, which the SFT agrees with. Strategic stocks of food are needed to guard against future shortages caused by severe weather or other factors. Action is also needed to address the ‘land grabbing’ currently taking place in developing countries, where large areas of arable land are secured by governments and corporations (often corruptly) for the large-scale growing of grain for the commodity market. Other sound recommendations include the UK Government’s continued support for the provision of birth control methods to help limit population growth; that GM crops are ‘not a panacea’; that developing countries should be helped to improve their infrastructure and food storage; and that small farmers play a critically important role in the provision of food in developing countries.

GM wheat found in Oregon field

The Guardian – Wednesday 29th May

The case of GM contamination of an Oregon wheat field is a serious development, which illustrates how difficult it is to regulate the food supply once genetically-modified crops are released into the environment. It is not yet clear whether this wheat was created, like Roundup Ready super-weeds, through the unintended spread of the GM genes between plants, or whether some farmers illegally retained GM wheat seed for their own use  after Monsanto gave up its trials into the crop 12 years ago. Either way, it proves that we are unable to adequately control the natural or man-made spread of these crops, and that their introduction into our food chain would essentially contaminate the genetic composition of nature itself. The SFT feel strongly that no further GM crops should be licensed or grown in open-environments unless it can be explicitly proven that they are totally safe, both for the environment and our health.

Survey reveals child food confusion

BBC News – Monday 3rd June

It’s not really surprising is it, that children think that pasta and bread are made of meat or that tomatoes grow underground, while potatoes grow on trees? The lack of knowledge that children and young people have of how food is produced is indicative of our society’s wider disconnection with food and healthy eating, and is manifesting itself in poor nutrition and rising levels of obesity. It is also feeding the unsustainable agricultural practices of our industrial food production systems – people don’t think about their food and where it comes from, who grew or made it and what was put on it or in it. Most of us buy our food in supermarkets, even in rural areas, with much of it packaged and filled with ingredients we don’t need. Cooking, despite the omnipresence of cooking programmes on television, is not something we do widely. How do we fix this? The first step is to grow something – it’s not hard and you can do it on a window sill if you need to. Second step is to eat what you grow. Problem pretty much solved. But beware, this can lead to allotments and the keeping of chickens…

Chemicals found in ‘organic’ beauty products

The Telegraph – Monday 3rd June

It is shocking to realise that there are no EU regulations on the labelling of organic or natural beauty products. It’s an open invitation to use the powerful and convincing words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ without actually having a product that is either. So buyer beware, and look for proper organic certification. Here in the UK that comes from the Soil Association, the most rigorous and respected organic certification agency in the country. If you’re paying extra for a natural and organic product, then you should get what you pay for.

Photograph by Luke Chan

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