Euro crisis will impact security of supply chain

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture

Creagh: Action needed to reduce food waste in the developing world
Creagh: Action needed to reduce food waste in the developing world
Shadow environment minister Mary Creagh has warned of the dangers of economic turmoil accompanying a break-up of the euro, which she said would dash any hopes of securing more sustainable food supplies.

A break-up of the euro would be "catastrophic for the global economy"​, said Creagh.

Speaking at a meeting organised by the Crop Protection Association on sustainable intensification within the food chain, Creagh said: "It's clear we can't have food security without economic security."​ And she warned that economic uncertainty was increasing the volatility of food prices.

"We are in an unprecedented period of political uncertainty,"​ she added, which threatened the chances of introducing more sustainability along the supply chain. She also argued for greater adoption of science and technology to help farmers around the world become more efficient while more sustainable.

At the same time there should be more investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) in the EU, she said. "I want to see the Rothamsted [genetically modified wheat] trials come to fruition," she added. "I believe in science."

Genetically modified wheat

Her view was echoed by Andrea Graham, chief science and regulatory affairs adviser at National Farmers Union, who spoke about the "erosion"​ of public research into agriculture over the past 20 years. If solutions were to be found to the problems that would arise in 2025, the R&D needed to start now, she said, as it took a long time to feed through to commercial products.

Creagh also called for action to reduce the huge levels of waste in the food supply chain especially in the developing world, where poor infrastructures lead to crops rotting in fields long before they could reach the market. She called for "transformational politics"​, with aid redirected at improving supply chains in developing countries.

She criticised discussion about sustainable intensification for placing too much emphasis on intensification and increasing yields rather than sustainability.

Sustainable intensification

Graham argued that there was no option for the world but to adopt sustainable intensification. "But it is not going to happen from a little bit of rhetoric,"​ she added.

However, Ian Woodhurst, farming campaigner for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said: "Someone will have to pay for what is to happen if we are to produce more for less."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron said this week "speed is of the essence" in dealing with the crisis, writes Mike Stones.

Speaking ahead of his meeting today (June 7) with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Cameron said: "Every day that the European economies are stagnant are days when opportunities are lost, wealth is lost, jobs can be lost so we need to get our economies moving."

NFU president Peter Kendall is to pick up the theme of sustainable intensification in his address to the World Farmers' Congress in Rome today.

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