The Food Ethics Council has established an enviable reputation for reflective thinking about the challenges facing the food chain. It is therefore interesting to read a report from its Business Forum about food security.
The report points out that one reason that food security has risen up the political agenda is 'in part down to opportunism, as interest groups use a period of crisis to advance their agenda.' Although the report doesn't make this point, this has been particularly evident in relation to the CAP which its defenders seizing on rising food prices as a justification for maintaining subsidies, some even advocating the revival of discredited policy instruments such as intervention buying.
The report points out that 'Raised food prices may also put pressure on the environment, threatening to undo improvements in sustainability that have been achieved in recent decades. On the demand side, some consumers may "trade down", potentially compromising on premium products that make environmental, social and animal welfare claims. On the supply side, higher prices may drive producers to farm harder, potentially compromising biodiversity and other ecological benefits.'
The report commends the notion of 'food capacity' developed as an alternative to 'food security' by City University. In this approach, 'Building production capacity means improving the production base and supply chain governance, promoting labour skills and investing in R & D that supports sustainable agriculture.'