New inquiry: Sustainable Food

15 February 2011

The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Joan Walley MP, is today launching a wide ranging inquiry into the environmental and social consequences of the way the food we eat in the UK is produced, distributed, marketed and sold. The Committee wishes to examine how Government policy can be used to promote more sustainable practices in the UK food industry and more sustainable behaviours from the public. As part of this, the Committee will examine the Coalition Government’s proposals to develop new food policies.

The Committee is interested in receiving written evidence that looks at the following themes of the inquiry:

  • How can the environmental and climate change impacts of the food we choose to eat best be reduced? What are the land-use trade-offs that affect food production and supply and how should these be managed?
  • How can the Government help to deliver healthy food sustainably, whilst also delivering affordable food for all?
  • How can consumers best be helped to make more sustainable choices about food?
  • Which aspects of the food production and supply chain are presenting the biggest problems for the sustainability of the food industry?
  • How might the changing powers of local authorities and the localism agenda hinder, or be used to encourage, more sustainable production and supply of food?
  • How could Government procurement practices be improved to promote better practice across the food sector?

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by Monday 28 March, although later submissions may be accepted. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.


The Government’s Foresight project on Global Food and Farming Futures, reported that:

"Many systems of food production are unsustainable. Without change, the global food system will continue to degrade the environment and compromise the world’s capacity to produce food in the future, as well as contributing to climate change and the destruction of biodiversity"

Food is inextricably linked to many challenges – from obesity and climate change to waste and global poverty. The food chain contributes around one-fifth of the total UK greenhouse gas emissions and is a major source of waste. In addition, many peoples’ livelihoods depend upon getting access to, and a fair price from, our food system.

The Government’s localism agenda potentially provides an opportunity to reconnect people to the process of food production and supply, while Defra’s business plan prioritises support for British farming and encouragement for sustainable food production. This wide-ranging inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee aims to establish the Government’s ambitions for delivering sustainable food, to identify areas where inter-departmental thinking on food and policy-conflicts are leading to unsustainable production and supply of food, and to mark out where the greatest advances in delivering sustainable food can and should be made.

For written submissions to the Committee, please note:

Each submission should ideally:

  • Be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked ‘Sustainable Food’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Guide for written submissions to Select Committees (PDF PDF 1.25 MB)

Image: Istockphoto

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