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UK food security outlook

The UK needs to radically change the way food is produced if food security is to be the status quo in the future, the government says.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary Hilary Benn was speaking at the launch of the UK’s first food security assessment which analyses the current state of the UK’s food supply and highlights challenges to a sustainable future.

Benn said that while the price of food was known, the full environmental costs and costs to health were significant yet hidden.

“We need a radical rethink of how we produce and consume our food,” Benn said.

“Globally we need to cut emissions and adapt to the changing climate that will alter what we can grow and where we can grow it. We must maintain the natural resources — soils, water, and biodiversity — on which food production depends.

“And we need to tackle diet-related ill health that already costs the NHS and the wider economy billions of pounds each year.

“And because we live in an interconnected world — where the price of soya in Brazil affects the price of steak at the local supermarket — we need to look at global issues that affect food security here.

“That’s why we need to consider what food system should look like in 20 years, and what must happen to get there. We need everyone in the food system to get involved — from farmers and retailers to the health service, schools and consumers.”

Benn said that the strategy will need to cover all aspects of the UK’s food — including production, processing, distribution, retail, consumption and disposal — as well as the impact on health and the environment.

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