There may be trouble ahead for sustainable supply chain

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Labour party, Liberal democrats, Food and drink federation

Cuts to reduce the £163bn fiscal deficit could undermine the next incoming government's efforts to create a more sustainable food supply chain, according to the Food Ethics Council (FEC).

The FEC also fears that the green agenda could be buried under other pressing issues, such as immigration and crime.

In an analysis of the manifesto commitments of the main political parties, the FEC's executive director Tom MacMillan reported that the Conservatives' aim to free-up trade and cut red tape could put a strain on their wider environmental commitment. He also expressed fears that, while Labour had led efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our diets, it "could not sustain funding for agri-environmental schemes".

Both main parties are likely to cut the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' budget, said MacMillan. This could adversely affect essential research and development into new production processes, such as those to mitigate the adverse effects of meat and dairy consumption.

If there is a hung parliament, the Liberal Democrats' objections to genetically modified (GM) foods could undermine research into growing GM food, he added. "This could prove problematic for a weak Conservative or Labour government if they try to push through GM trials in the UK."

Meanwhile, Ross Warburton, president of the Food and Drink Federation, has criticised politicians for failing to recognise the "strategic importance" of food and drink manufacturing to the nation's economy.

Speaking in London last month, Warburton called for more coherence in policy: "Government must put our sector at the heart of economic benefit, particularly as policy makers look to rebalance the UK economy away from an over-reliance on financial services. We believe that national policy must reflect the key strategy role that food and drink manufacturers will play in ensuring the nation's future food security against the combined effects of climate change, higher global demand and the increasing pressure on finite resources."

Warburton said: "Government must support manufacturers, protect innovation through investment and through cutting red tape, and back us in going green. In return, it can be confident that food and drink will continue to be a great British success story."

He added: "And it matters to the UK, because food and drink is not only the biggest manufacturing sector, it's a high-value sector as well, with world-class capabilities in areas of production, logistics, sales marketing and innovation. And you'd be surprised at how many ministers and shadow ministers didn't know that."

Related topics: Bakery

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