Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too much focus on environment

Conservative shadow minister Lord Taylor has said that there has been strong a focus on environmental considerations in agricultural policy. He said, 'If we want a very productive agriculture we want to re-focus the attention that's been diverted away from farming itself.'

It has been apparent for some time that a Conservative government would adopt a more productionist approach to farm policy, but that has always been foreshadowed by the recent Defra strategy paper which was substantially influenced by the growing influence of the food security discourse.

This comes at a time when a new study by WWF-UK and the Food Climate Research Network estimates the food we eat accounts for 30 per cent of the UK's carbon footprint. Previous official estimates had been below 20 per cent. However, these figures take into account emissions generated overseas. It is estimated that more than half of greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by livestock farming.

What we do not want are ill thought out responses of the 'Meat Free Monday' type which have been criticised by careful analysts like Tom MacMillan of the Food Ethics Research Council. Too hasty a lurch in that direction could have implications for animal welfare.

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