Food Supply: Climate Change

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 4 January 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of adopting crop diversity to mitigate against climate change crop failure and promote sustainable food production and security.

Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Our fantastic British farmers are world-leaders and carefully plan their planting to suit the weather, their soil type, and their long-term agronomic strategy.

It is not Government policy to determine which crops farmers should prioritise to include in their crop rotation. However, we will continue to support farmers, so they can make the right decisions for them and the productivity of their land.

Defra’s Genetic Improvement Networks (GINs) on Wheat, Oilseed Rape, Pulses and Vegetable crops aim to improve the main UK crops by identifying genetic traits to improve their productivity, sustainability and resilience. Across the GINs we have already successfully identified genetic traits that have improved resilience to climate change and common pests and diseases, and we are working with breeders to incorporate these traits into elite UK crop varieties.

A recent Defra commissioned research project “Review of opportunities for diversifying UK agriculture through investment in underutilised crops” also sought to identify underutilised, underdeveloped and novel crops with potential to be grown successfully in the UK within diversified cropping systems. The report can be located on the Defra Science & Research webpage at the following link: Science Search (defra.gov.uk).

Furthermore, UK consumers have access through international trade to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production and ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

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