UK joins US, EU, and Brazil in global sustainable food production coalition

The UK has signed up to a global coalition geared towards promoting sustainable food production, joining scores of major nations, trade bodies, and academic experts across the grain, dairy, and livestock sectors worldwide, Environment Secretary George Eustice announced yesterday.

Launched last year at a summit in the US, the Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition (SPG) counts members such as the US, EU, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It aims to share best practices on sustainable food production in key markets around the world in a bid to slash emissions and environmental impacts.

Coalition members have agreed to share information about best practices and innovative evidence-based policies and techniques that can help boost food productivity “in a sustainable way”, and promote such efforts at an international level, according to the government.

“I am pleased to announce today that the UK will join the Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition convened by the United States,” said Eustice. “I look forward to working with our international partners in this dialogue on innovation, science and sustainable agriculture.”

It comes in the wake of fierce criticism of the UK government’s long-awaited National Food Strategy earlier this month, which was attacked by farmers, environmental groups, and food businesses alike.

The slim document, at just 33 pages in length, was criticized by Henry Dimbleby – Leon founder and lead author of the independent review which fed into the strategy – for lacking a clear vision, and for failing to take up many of his review’s recommendations, Such as measures to boost plant-based food supply and demand.

Meanwhile, Russia’s war in Ukraine has had a major impact on the global food supply chain, as Ukraine is one of the world’s largest wheat producers and supplies have faced major disruption since the invasion in February.

In a bid to help tackle growing food security concerns and curb soaring food prices, a clutch of major nations including the UK and Germany are reportedly keen to push for temporary waivers on biofuels mandates at this weekend’s G7 Summit so as to ensure land used for energy crop production can be used to produce food.

It follows growing calls from some policymakers for an easing of mandatory minimum biofuel blending requirements in petrol and diesel fuels – which are aimed at driving down emissions from transport – in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They argue that doing so could open up more agricultural production of wheat and vegetable oil for food supply chains, rather than to supply the production of biofuels.

“We’re quite keen to look at the issue of biofuel mandates to ensure that crops are prioritised for food consumption and not necessarily told for use in fuels,” a British government official Reutersalthough it stressed that it was not clear how broad the support was for such a move across the G7.

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