return to

21 Oct 2010 : Column WA190

Food Production


Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

    To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution which could be made by the European Union towards meeting rising global demand for food.[HL2547]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Over the next decade the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organisation (OECD-FAO) project modest growth of agricultural output in OECD countries of 8 per cent and less than 4 per cent in Europe. In contrast, it projects much stronger production increases in non-OECD countries, particularly for meat and dairy. For instance, Brazil's agricultural output is projected to grow by over 40 per cent to 2019, whilst Russia, the Ukraine, China and India are expected to grow by 20-30 per cent. This growth will be important to meet the increased demand projected in these countries.

While higher incomes and increased demand in emerging economies present opportunities to EU producers, the greatest contribution Europe can make to global food security is through good policy and technology transfer, encouraging sustainable agriculture, productivity and resource efficiency, and a more stable and equitable global trade system. Europe can do this through pressing for a more ambitious and balanced Doha deal and through genuine reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to remove unhelpful subsidies and demonstrate leadership in delivering sustainable production systems. These reforms will also improve the underlying competitiveness of our farmers and fishermen, enabling them to better compete in world markets and take advantage of increased global demand for high quality produce. Continued investment in the development and application of science and technology and policies that encourage healthy, sustainable diets and reduce waste along the food chain will also be important in meeting future demand sustainably.

As the world's largest donor of development aid, Europe also has an important role to play in assisting developing countries address food security challenges, including availability, access and nutritional uptake. In March 2010, the EU published a comprehensive policy framework to this end which acknowledges the importance of smallholder farmers, their vulnerability to the effects of climate change, the significant contribution sustainable agricultural productivity increases can make to meeting local and regional demand and increasing smallholder incomes. Implementation of this framework is now starting. It is supporting those countries that prioritise agriculture and food security in their own development efforts.

In January 2011, Sir John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific adviser, will publish a major two-year study from the Foresight Programme: Global Food and Farming Futures. The study, co-sponsored by Defra and DfID, has brought together an impressive

21 Oct 2010 : Column WA191

range of international experts, from the UN, EU, World Bank and industry and will set out what policy makers at national, regional and international levels, including Europe, will need to do in the coming decades to ensure supply can match demand in a way that is affordable to all and environmentally sustainable.