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Grow your own
1st April, 2008
The World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report makes a grim prediction of what is to come:‘The future is increasingly uncertain. Models predict that food prices in global markets may reverse their long-term downward trend, creating rising uncertainties about global food security.’
When the architects of globalisation start making such statements, first we should pity those low-income countries dependent on world markets, and second, we can understand why in Whitehall, Brussels and capitals everywhere, food security is also back on the agenda of rich and poor countries alike.
The situation here is fairly sobering. While a 2006 study for Defra by Cranfield University suggested that the UK food system was pretty robust and would prove resilient if there were a crisis or shock of some kind, the hard facts are that the UK is only 63 per cent self-sufficient. This rises to 74 per cent for indigenous (homegrown) foods. Nevertheless, the UK currently imports approximately £22 billion of food and drink each year. Most of this – 68 per cent – comes from elsewhere in the EU.
It’s important not to be blinkered about self-reliance: even at the end of World War II the UK produced the same amount of food as it does currently. It’s a long time since...
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