Report calls for co-ordinated food policy

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food security Agriculture

There should be a fresh, co-ordinated approach to food policy making that puts food-related concerns at the heart of government.That was the verdict...

There should be a fresh, co-ordinated approach to food policy making that puts food-related concerns at the heart of government.

That was the verdict of a report just issued by the Institute of Public Policy Research North entitled Best Before: How the UK should respond to food policy challenges​.

The study summarises the challenges facing food policy makers, including protecting consumers from rising global food prices, increasing the environmental sustainability of food production and ensuring security of food supply. It outlines four key areas for action: food security, food poverty, food citizenship and food communication.

On food security, the report claimed “current UK policies seem not to take national food security seriously enough”. It argued that agricultural policy should be more orientated towards food production. It called for a stable supply of workers to be guaranteed for the agri-food sector. And it stated that the wider value of food production needed to be taken into greater account when making decisions about land use.

On food poverty, the paper called on local authorities, with government support, to develop universal provision of free breakfasts for all schoolchildren. “This would help reduce the negative health impacts of food poverty and poor diet for all children and young people and the stigma of receiving free school meals,” it claimed.

Regarding food citizenship, it argued: “Promoting sustainable and healthy food production and consumption will require better interventions to promote healthier decisions among individuals, more leadership from the private sector and more effective interventions from the public sector.”

Referring to food communication, it called for “an informed public debate about competing policy priorities”, such as the use of new technologies, including biotechnology”. Such technology might improve the efficiency and sustainability of food supply, but it was important to communicate why and how it would be used, the report stated.