global outlook

In the last edition of MTJ, I touched on the emerging debate on global food shortages. In the UK, the richest spend about 7% of household expenditure on food, while the poorest spend 15-17%. In Europe generally, it is not a case of eating to survive and, over the years, this has arguably led to more and more conditions being placed on food production, not necessarily justified by scientific evidence. World demand for meat is rising in China, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere. The European Union may start to find it is not at the top of the list for being served unless we are prepared to pay for it. Before my farming friends rub their hands with glee, remember those in the UK who spend 15-17% of their expenditure on food - they are not a minority to be ignored. The EU's antagonism towards GM feed should be challenged. Neil Parrish MEP has raised a question with the EU Commission on this. His concern is the plight of European farmers being uncompetitive with imports. Surely the real concern is the potential impact on consumers. I am also convinced that the opposition to GM feed stems not from the EU Commission itself, but from the attitude of a number of member states and even certain sections of the European Parliament. There is also a lot to be done to counteract the negative image given by some in the media. By not basing food policy on sound scientific evidence - and I might also include our policy on foot-and-mouth disease here - the EU risks painting itself into the proverbial corner. No matter what some might like to think, we cannot be totally self-sufficient in food - for a start the EU has to import about 75% of its animal feed! Liz Murphy International Meat Trade Association

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