Dialogue report on food system challenges receives good coverage
The report for the Sciencewise-supported Which?, Government Office for Science public dialogue on food system challenges was published on 6th August 2015. The report was subsequently shared via social media and referenced on a number of websites. Of note is the coverage by Which? itself, Eating Better and Farming UK:
The senior policy researcher at Which?, Harriet Pickles, published a short blog on 6th August, outlining recent examples of challenges affecting the global food system, the background to the public dialogue and some of the dialogue’s key findings. The blog explained:
"We wanted to make sure that your views were front and centre when the government, retailers and manufacturers plan how to tackle these food security and sustainability problems. So in conjunction with the Government Office for Science and Sciencewise, we commissioned research to explore public views on these challenges.
In a series of two-day workshops in Cardiff, Glasgow and London, we invited participants to debate their priorities for Britain’s future food supply, the wider food system and their expectations."
The blog emphasised that there was a lack of awareness of this issue and that the public’s views needed to be taken in to account when policy makers sought to address this challenge and went on:
"But, in short, people were shocked to hear about the scale of the challenges facing the food system and how this may impact on the availability and choice of food in the longer term…. If we’re to have a food system that’s secure and sustainable in the future, policymakers need to put your views at the heart of their work. So make sure to tell us what you think about the challenges facing our food system and the action you’d like to be taken."
Eating Better’s Sue Dibb, part of the Oversight Group for the public dialogue, issued a short comment welcoming the release of the report. The piece concluded:
"We welcome the publication of this research that demonstrates the public’s willingness to consider eating less meat once they are aware of the impacts that its production has for sustainability and food security. But as the dialogue participants recognised, encouraging this behaviour change will need help and support from governments, the food industry and educators to raise awareness and help make sustainable choices the easy choices."
The article also highlighted that participants
"were ‘shocked’ to hear about the impact of food production on climate change and the environment. They questioned why these issues were not publicised more widely and concluded that it was essential to change our food consumption habits ... Follow up two months after the research, typically found that those who had taken part were buying less meat."
Farming UK published a story on 6th August headlined 'Public dialogue on food system challenges and possible solutions'. As well as providing an introduction and link to the dialogue report, the piece also includes a response from Peter Melchett at the Soil Association. His response takes the dialogue results as evidence that the public wants the Government to make radical improvements to agriculture and diet:
“This research shows that people will back food and farming policies that deliver a healthier climate, more wildlife and slimmer waistlines. They want the government to deliver radical improvements in agriculture and diets. Defra’s forthcoming 25 Year Food and Farming Plan must reflect this, by committing to far reaching cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and curbing the use of agricultural chemicals in favour of more climate and wildlife friendly approaches. The plan will also need to help people to eat well and this means less and better meat, more fruit and veg and fewer processed foods."