UK food security report urges consumers to eat less meat and warns industry to 'curb waste'

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers should eat less meat, and there should be 'tough sanctions' for industry members that do not cu down on waste - says the report.
Consumers should eat less meat, and there should be 'tough sanctions' for industry members that do not cu down on waste - says the report.
A global report on food security launched by the UK government suggests that consumers should eat less meat while urging retailers and manufacturers to take action that curbs food waste.

Launching its report on Global Food Security the group of British MPs, led by Sir Malcolm Bruce, chair of the International Development Committee warned that the UK - like many Western countries - is 'never more than a few days away' from a significant food shortage.

The MPs, who form the International Development Committee , urge governments to step up efforts in cutting the amount of food that is thrown away – estimated to be nearly a third of the amount produced globally.

Indeed, Bruce urged the UK government to launch a consumer focused campaign, and set 'tough targets' for industry in order to combat food waste.

"A number of tangible measures set out in our report could, if implemented, have a significant impact on global food security and directly benefit UK consumers,"​ said Bruce.

"There is, for example, considerable scope for the Government to launch a national consumer campaign to reduce domestic food waste. Alongside this the Government should also set national targets to curb food waste within the UK food production and retail sectors, with clear sanctions for companies that fail to meet these targets."

Meat is a treat

The UK ministers also suggest that consumers should eat meat less often -  in order to help ease the food crises in developing countries.

"Consumers should also be encouraged over time to reduce how often they eat meat,"​ said the report.

Indeed, the report noted that the 'massive increase' in meat consumption in rich countries in recent decades has led to spikes in the price of grain that is used for animal feed, in addition to resulting in increased deforestation and pressure on agricultural land.

By avoiding meat even for one or two days per week, consumers can help to ease these pressures, says the report.

"We should ​[also] place a stronger focus on more sustainable extensive systems of meat production such as pasture-fed cattle, rather than on highly intensive grain-fed livestock units."

Biofuel pressure

The report added that agriculturally-produced biofuels are having a major detrimental impact on global food security by driving higher and more volatile food prices.

The MPs confirmed that EU targets requiring 10% of transport energy to be drawn from renewable sources by 2020 are 'likely to cause dramatic food price increases.'

Land concerns

The committee also expressed its concern over repeated acts by large corporations in buying up large areas of land in developing countries - land that had previously been owned by smallholders.

The MPs recommend that UK-domiciled corporations should be required to be transparent about land deal - calling for full implementation of the UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure.

"We challenge DFID to support additional projects to develop robust land registration systems, as it already does in Rwanda and  plans to do in Ethiopia,"  ​added Sir Malcolm.

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