The UK has a highly successful agricultural industry, and the food and drink sector is responsible for 3.7 million jobs and 7% of the overall economy. It is 62% self-sufficient in food production. However many domestic and international factors affect both production and prices for consumers as became evident during the world food price spike of 2008.
Globally, climate change, population growth, energy supply and water security are all putting pressure on food production and have the potential to lead to higher food prices. In the UK, food price inflation was 3.1% in 2012 rising to 4.4% by the middle of 2013.
The new UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies seeks to exploit opportunities to develop and adopt new and existing technologies, products and services to increase productivity. GM technology is one option. Supporters argue that it has the potential to increase crop yields and contribute to a more resilient agricultural system. Others fear the unknown long-term environmental implications of this technology.
The Committee last looked into food security in 2009. This inquiry will follow up many of the issues raised then.
The Committee invites written evidence on the following issues:
- How best to improve UK (and EU) food security, including using resources more efficiently;
- The relationship between the price of food and the cost of producing it;
- The implications of volatility in global food supply and demand for UK food security;
- The potential value and contribution of science and GM technology to UK food security.
- How food and farming supply chains, and the current systems for traceability, can contribute to increased resilience;
Whether climate change risks are adequately incorporated in UK food security strategies and planning;
- The obstacles facing food producers, including small farmers, seeking to increase production and access new markets; and
- Ways of increasing self sufficiency in products for which the UK has a comparative advantage
The deadline for receipt of written evidence is Tuesday 10 December 2013. The inquiry page, with information on how to submit evidence, is available here.