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Food Supply

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 28th February 2012.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to increase the sustainability of food (a) productivity and (b) security.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government have placed the need for growth and productivity in the agri-food sector at the heart of DEFRA’s business plan. Our aim is to enhance the competitiveness and resilience of the whole food chain and to secure an environmentally sustainable and healthy supply of food, and this aim is embedded within all our policy work.

The Green Food Project is looking at the challenge of how we can increase food production in England, whilst simultaneously enhancing the environment, and how we might reconcile any tensions that this challenge raises.

The Government are investing about £400 million per annum on research including up to £90 million over five years for collaborative research and development with industry, to stimulate technological innovation in areas such as crop productivity, sustainable livestock production, waste reduction and management, and greenhouse gas reduction. Government funders, industry and third sector are working together to through the Government Chief Scientists' Food Research Partnership and the Global Food Security programme to address these challenges through coordinated multi-disciplinary research.

This Government are committed to ensuring the UK's food security in both the short and long term. Last year the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington produced a Foresight report “The Future of Food and Farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability”. This report looks at how the UK can respond to challenges such as population growth and climate change along with other pressures on the food system and challenges governments worldwide to take action.

DEFRA and DFID have signed up to a Foresight action plan to address the challenges on food security set out in the report. You can access DEFRA’s Foresight action plan and the Foresight report at the following website:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/our-work/projects/published-projects/global-food-and-farming-futures/reports-and-publications

Food security cannot be delivered by focusing on self-sufficiency. International trade has an important role in providing food security and we are seeking to support our industry in accessing and maximising opportunities within export markets. That is why this Government recently published the UK Export Action Plan. This is the result of Government working closely with industry to boost exports, promote innovation and encourage further growth, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises.

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