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Coalition Government 'must step up to the plate on sustainable food'

25 March 2011

New food report finds Government food plans on obesity, climate change and environmental damage 'insubstantial'.

The Coalition Government's plans for feed a growing population sustainably and healthily are 'insubstantial', according to the Sustainable Development Commission’s final report on food matters, published today (Friday 25 March).

Looking back, Looking Forward: Sustainability and UK food policy 2000 – 2011 , reviews progress towards sustainable food policy in the UK from 2000-2011. It argues that the Coalition Government has failed to layout any defined plans to underpin its commitment to producing more food in the UK. It also argues that Andrew Lansley’s plans for 'responsibility deals' with business to tackle obesity are weak and lack defined goals and adequate monitoring.

The report warns all four UK Governments not to step back from the challenge of making our food systems more sustainable, calling on them to raise their game and speed up the pace and scale of change in the light of uncertain oil prices, climate change and public health challenges.

Tim Lang, The SDC's Food Commissioner and Professor at the Centre for Food Policy, City University said: "The challenge of feeding growing populations healthily while minimising environmental damage – particularly as food and fuel prices continue to rise – should remind governments that this is not a time to step away from tackling our food system. Obesity and climate change are two huge market failures. Our review of the last decade shows that progress requires the hands-on participation of governments – not a 'leave it to the market' approach."

The Sustainable Development Commission recommends that Governments must:

  • Prioritise reversing the decline in UK food production, helping expand vegetable crops sustainably and increasing UK fruit production
  • Enable the meat and dairy industry to reduce its reliance on grain feedstuffs to lower land use and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Work to create local food partnerships to harness local government, health authorities, community groups and local business to meet local sustainability goals
  • Increase efforts to reduce food waste, planning for zero food waste to landfill by 2015
  • Ensure practical food experience in schools including cooking skills and food growing
  • Reflect the cost of ensuring a nutritious and sustainable diet in minimum wage and benefit levels
  • Mandate health and sustainability standards for all publicly procured food.

» Download Looking back, Looking Forward: Sustainability and UK food policy 2000 – 2011

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