GFS Champion Tim Benton explains how engaging with people has shifted his views.
I am very privileged in the role of Global Food Security (GFS) Champion to meet many people and discuss the challenges raised by global demand for food outstripping supply. I have had such discussions with a large range of groups in different government departments: Health, Defra, DFID and the FCO in the UK as well as the Scottish and Welsh governments.
Continue reading Framing the big picture: going round in circles
In this video blog, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney makes a case for research from the Oxford Farming Conference.
“My name is Simon Coveney, I am the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine and I am here at the Oxford Farming Conference today with a very clear message about the importance of the linkage between science and agriculture and the agri-food industry generally.
The reality is that we have an enormous challenge, but also an enormous opportunity for this sector over the next 10-50 years, because globally we have to find a way of producing significantly more food from the same, in fact less, natural resources as we see the availability of agricultural land shrink by about a percentage a year.
And at the same time we see the consumption demand for food dramatically increasing.
Big chains are an easy target, and rightly so in many instances. But food’s journey from supplier to consumer is more complex – and evolving – says Andrew Fearne.
Picture this: you are the supplier of a highly perishable and seasonable food commodity to a major supermarket. You are a significant player in your sector, say summer fruits, but the supplier of only one of 30,000 product lines for the supermarket.
Your supply programmes are generally agreed annually with your customer, the supermarket, with prices and promotions contingent upon availability and demand.
Continue reading Supermarket buyers – a breed apart or an endangered species?
Even in the UK, where we have shown little anxiety about our access to food supplies since the days of rationing in World War 2, food security is back on the agenda.
Climate change could, it seems, be the trigger that makes us overcome our squeamishness about genetically modified crops, according to debates in the popular press. The recent Royal Society report “Reaping the benefits: science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture”, urges universities to work with funding bodies to reverse the decline in subjects relevant to the sustainable intensification of food crop production.
But is technology really going to provide everything that we need or are we simply hoping once again for a quick fix to an extremely complex problem?