The UK needs to increase its own food production instead of relying on produce from abroad, according to speakers at NOAH’s “Feeding the World” conference on Tuesday (February 15).

The UK needs to increase its own food production instead of relying on produce from abroad, according to speakers at NOAH’s “Feeding the World” conference on Tuesday (February 15).

Lord Soulsby (L) and Neil Parish (R) at NOAH's 'Feeding the World' conference.The conference, which took place at The Royal Society in London on February 15, was chaired by Lawson Soulsby, past-president of the RCVS and former dean of Cambridge Veterinary School.

Speakers at the event included veterinary scientists with backgrounds in academia, the pharmaceutical industry and public health. 

Opening the meeting, Lord Soulsby said: “As the global population increases its wealth so does the demand for animal protein. There is a movement from demand for vegetable protein to animal protein right across the world.”

Keynote speaker at the conference, Conservative MP and former farmer Neil Parish, outlined issues associated with population growth. He said: “We are now six and half billion people, we will go up to nine billion by 2050.”

Emphasising the need for Britain to increase food production, he said: “In this global world, where we are seeing climate change and many countries drying up and getting hotter, there is no doubt that Britain and northern parts of Europe will need to play their fair share in producing food.”

However, David Leaver, former principal of the Royal Agricultural College, told the meeting that UK food production has been reducing in recent decades. 

NOAH chief executive Phil Sketchley.Prof Leaver said: “We don’t produce enough for ourselves and are relying on other countries and their environments to produce food for us. That can’t be right. One of the reasons for it is we are not innovating enough. We are not moving forward with technology and, as a result, we are not competitive.”

The effective use of veterinary medicines is a key factor in increasing food production in both the developed and developing world, according to NOAH chief executive Phil Sketchley. He told delegates: “We need new medicines but we have a lot of products, including vaccines – a lot of tools in the veterinary and farming armour – that we could make better use of.”

“Let’s not just keep waiting for the new stuff, let’s make better use of what we have already,” he added.

 

  • For the full article, by reporter Joel Dudley, see Veterinary Times Vol.41, No.7 (February 28).
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