Global outlook

The recent report Securing food supplies up to 2050: the challenges faced by the UK makes for interesting reading.

The report tackles the complicated problems of how we ensure we have sufficient food to feed both ourselves and future generations, while preserving the world's natural resources. What is clear is that there is no easy or perfect solution. Perhaps more importantly, it shows that whatever action we take as a nation, it cannot be done in isolation and must be balanced.

This balancing act is evident in the issues raised. For example, can we be self-sufficient, or get close to it, while ignoring the adverse environmental impact of the systems needed to achieve it? If we need to improve future crop yields to feed an expanding population, with limited land available, can genetic modification sit comfortably alongside organic production? Can consumers be given a seasonal choice of products at affordable prices, without the need to import from other countries? Can we, as a so-called advanced economy, ignore the financial plight of Third World producers by subsidising domestic production?

In today's world, no market can operate in isolation. There is a time, place and price for the import and export of goods and services between all trading nations. Protectionism has no ongoing place if we are to successfully address the complex issue of how we feed ourselves.

One of the interviewees in the report makes a valid point: there are currently more-than-sufficient calories produced globally to sustain the world's population. With over two billion people considered clinically overweight in the northern hemisphere, more of these calories need to go to the one billion malnourished people in the south. Food for thought indeed!

Liz Murphy, director, International Meat Trades Association

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