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					Food and sustainability:
     10 thoughts
                   Tim Lang
Centre for Food Policy, City University London
              t.lang@city.ac.uk
                      &
   Sustainable Development Commission
‘What’s hot or not: the post Copenhagen menu’, Food & Drinks
      Innovation Network, Staverton Park, January 27 2010


                                                               1
   1. Macro food policy is ‘hot’ again
• Copenhagen ‘failure’ not surprising
• Climate change not key but part of a web
• Food price spike 2006-08  neo-Malthusianism
  – Too crude: implies need to produce more food
  – Desperate hope for new technical fix: GM + biotech
• Actually, there is enough …for now …but it’s
  – badly distributed / unequal / wasted
• Crunch issue is where to focus: production
  or consumption? Or both? Change diet or
  farming? What to grow & how? What to eat?
                                                   2
2. The progress is faltering




                               3
 The C20th policy formula is
       under threat
    (the Productionist paradigm)

Science + capital +
distribution  output 
cheaper food
 health = progress

                                   4
World food production, per capita
           1960-2007




                                                      5
  Source: FAO figs / Defra Food Pocketbook 2009 p35
Proportion of undernourished
  people, global, 1990-2007




                                 6
      Source: FAO SOFI 2008 p7
UK food production, 1988-2008




                                                    7
Source: FAO figs / Defra Food Pocketbook 2009 p37
        3. Part of the problem is
           institutional failure
• Global:
  – UN (FAO/WHO/UNEP etc) vs Bretton Woods + WTO
• EU:
  – Silence / reticence by EC
  – CAP = the elephant in the room
• UK:
  – Marginalised in EU
  – No clear policy framework: ‘leave it to Tesco’ vs
    rhetoric about plastic bags

                                                        8
Copenhagen exposed fragmentation

 • State  Companies  Consumers
 • Weakness of EU structures
   – CAP vs biofuels vs energy vs transport
 • Legacy of Washington Consensus
   – Consumerism but consumers aren’t changing
     fast enough
   – Huge cultural threats:
     • meat = progress
     • More + cheaper = better

                                                 9
 4. But there are signs of policy
             change
• E.g. UK food policy growth
  – BSE / FMD  Curry Commission 2002
  – PMSU Food Matters  Food 2030
• Devolved Administrations take the lead
• Stirring among EU MSs
  – NL, Sweden, UK



                                           10
Sweden takes the
 lead?
• Offers evidence-based eco-
  nutrition guidelines (May
  2009)
• Now submitted to the
  European Commission
• Joint work by National Food
  Administration & Swedish
  Environmental Protection
  Agency
• Other input (e.g. Swedish
  Board of Fisheries)
• Framed around eco-
  conscious consumers,
  rather than population
• Focus on key food groups
• BUT PREMISSED ON:
  - thoughtful consumers
  - voluntarism

                                11
 NL Ministry of Agriculture, Nature
    & Food Quality June 2008
• Policy Document on Sustainable Food: towards
  sustainable production and consumption of
  food http://www.minlnv.nl/portal/page?_pageid=116,1640321&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&p_file_id=39545
• Objectives
     – Stimulating sustainable innovations in the Dutch agrifood
       complex
     – Enable and entice Dutch consumers to buy sustainable
       (and healthy) food
     – Influencing the international agenda
• Approach:
     – voluntarism, information, innovation (GMOs),
                                                                                               12
       productivity, etc
      UK stirs into action?
Two UK Cabinet Office 2008 reports




                               13
        5. C21st food must face the
        New (& Old) Fundamentals
•   Climate change        •   Population (9bn 2050)
•   Fuel / oil / energy   •   Urbanisation
•   Water                 •   Affluence (BRICs +)
•   Land use              •   Inequality
•   Biodiversity          •   Nutrition transition
                          •   Healthcare costs
•   Labour
                          •   Waste


                                                14
   6. Knowing this, Industry is
   creeping into choice-editing
• This carries risks:
  – Not just reputational / brand risks but
    ideological risks
  – Not nanny states but nanny corporations
  – Implies omniscience
• …but it is necessary
  – Packs aren’t big enough to put what’s needed
    on the label

                                               15
Less choice, more choice-editing?




          Source: Lang, Barling & Caraher (2009)   16
             Food Policy, OUP
 7. Notion of sustainable diets is
  going to be key battleground
• current corporate focus is ‘bottom-up’ ie
  on sustainable supply chains
• This is still productionist
• More attention now needed on sustainable
  diets
• = consumer / behaviour change
• = a more cultural focus

                                          17
Fish: eat more, less, differently or none?

 • YES (nutritionists)
    – long chain omega 3s / 2 portions a week (one
      oily)
    – FSA, Eurodiet, WHO etc
 • NONE or LESS (environmentalists)
    – Stocks running out
    – strong evidence: FAO (SOFIA), RCEP 2004,
      Pew 2003
 • DIFFERENTLY (eco-business)
    – Marine Stewardship Council, Organics, China18
8. The nettle to grasp is the more
     complex world of ‘omni-
    standards’ or ‘poly-values’
• Multiple goals need to be built into supply
  chains
• Focus on cost, convenience and safety
  will jostle with other values




                                                19
‘Omni-Standards’ or ‘poly-values’,
           not trade-offs
Quality:                      Environmental:
•   Taste                     •   Climate change
•   Seasonality               •   Water
•   Localness (?)             •   Land use
•   Fresh (?)                 •   Biodiversity
•   Identity / authenticity   •   Waste reduction

Social values:                Health:
•   Pleasure                  •   Safety
•   Animal welfare            •   Nutrition
•   Working conditions        •   Access / affordability
•   Equality                  •   Information & education
•   Cost internalisation
•   Trust
                                                        20
New ‘narrative’ emerging: eg. H2O per
           calorie (health)




                                          21
source: Joanne Zygmunt / Waterwise 2007
9. The terrain of sustainable
  diets is emerging: SDC’s
             work




                                22
    UK’s Sustainable Development
      Commission project 2009
•   A scoping project – ie opening not final words
•   Taking issue across gov’t: DH, FSA, Defra, EA etc
•   Contracted to Oxford University BHF HPG
•   3 processes:
    – Literature review
    – Stakeholder consultation
    – Review existing positions & interventions
• Developed a hierarchy of priorities
• Report done, consulted + Govt and sent to Defra

                     MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1   23
                Key findings
• no def’n of ‘sustainable diet’ yet agreed but
  stakeholders see need for one
• Identified 10 key guidelines for sustainable diets
• Reviewed 44 published academic research studies
  and reports
• Found more positive synergies (win-wins) than
  tensions (win-lose) eg
  – Lowering consumption of low nutritional value foods
    (fatty/sugary foods & drinks) has mainly +ve impacts on
    health, environment and reducing social inequalities.
• Found gaps in the evidence, most notably with
  respect to economic impacts of dietary changes.
• Produced a 3-level hierarchy of behavioural impact
                    MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1          24
   Identified existing UK framework
               guidelines
• Consume less food             • Prepare food for more
  and drink                       than one person and
• Accept different                for several days
  notions of quality            • Reduce food waste
• Accept variability of         • Reduce consumption
  supply                          of meat and dairy
• Shop on foot or over            products
  the internet                  • Reduce consumption
• Cook and store foods            of food and drinks with
  in energy conserving            low nutritional value
  ways                          • Reduce consumption
                                  of bottled water
                 MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1           25
Changes where health, environmental,
economic and social impacts are likely
     to complement each other:

• Reduce consumption of meat & dairy
  products
• Reduce food & drink of low nutritional value
  (fatty, sugary foods + tea, coffee & alcohol)
• Reduce food waste.


                MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1   26
 Changes likely to have a significant
  positive sustainability impact, but
where gains in one area might have a
  more negative impact elsewhere:
• Increase fruit & veg consumption,
  particularly seasonal and field grown
• Consume only fish from sustainable stocks
• Eat more foods produced with respect for
  wildlife & environment e.g. organic food

               MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1   27
Changes making smaller contribution to
dietary sustainability, with largely
complementary effects across issues

• Reduce energy input by shopping on foot or
  over the internet
• Cook & store food in energy conserving ways
• Drinking tap water instead of bottled water




               MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1   28
    Reviewed practical initiatives
• Found 40 on sustainable food supply
    – Govt  local food growing projects
•   Assessed 12 for the breadth of sustainability
•   Only 3 initiatives had good sustainability scope
•   Few had adequately evaluated possible impacts
•   Some +ve moves towards consistency
    – eg Healthier Food Mark for public sector caterers




                     MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1          29
    Recommendations include:
• DA(F) to oversee cross-Govt guidelines
  – Step 1: FSA Eatwell Plate become Sust Diet
  – Step 2: develop full sustainability guidance
• Defra, FSA, DAs
  – seek EU position
  – develop evidence on behaviour change
• Food Research Partnership explore
  ‘hotspots’ eg meat & dairy, fish, soy, palm
• Explore implications for consumer
  behaviour and supply chains
                MSc Food Policy FPHE week 1        30
   10. All this means costings
            will alter….
• Centrality of drive for cheaper food
• Selling more stuff/food delivers efficiencies
• Land use: not ‘food vs. biofuels’ but how to
  get multiple value from single land use
• What is farmed / grown  How / what to eat
• Food policy and policy frameworks
• Culture and behaviour
• ALL THIS ….VERY FAST
                                              31
    Thanks!

t.lang@city.ac.uk




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