No 10 Downing Street has a Strategy Unit. In September 2007, the Prime Minister commissioned them to undertake a major project on food and food policy.
This was :
1 To to review the main trends in food production and consumption in the UK.
2 To analyse the implications of those trends for the economy, society and the environment
3 To assess the robustness of the current policy framework for food
4 To determine what the objectives of future food strategy should be and the measures needed to achieve them.
They produced an Analytical report in January this year which is not available at the web page alocated ..." This report is being updated and should be available shortly. "
Food Matters - Towards a strategy for the 21st Century is a 145 page report published today by the Strategy Unit ... and must not be confused with the Gallagher report also issued today by the Ministry of Transport ... easily done if you read the Press. It is this report which contains the information
"UK consumers spend an average of £420 per household each year on food that theyIt was of course fed to pigs ever since the war, and until the Foot and Mouth Outbreak in 2001 (in which 7 million sheep and cattle were killed at a cost of £8Bn.) that this used to be collected and fed to pigs. There were said to be 2 origins of this outbreak, illegally imported food and the failure to sterilize pig feed by boiling. This was never proven.
then throw away."
This figure (according to a footnote) of £420 per household comes from Waste and Resources Action Programme WRAP (2008) The Food We Waste "consumers throw away 4.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten – worth an average of £420 per household – every year" Except that the BBC report on 8th May 2008 of the study, "the first of its kind in the world (?)" as " consumers throw away 4.1 million tonnes of food " based on a survey of 2,138 households (out of 23 Million) and gave 2 figures for total cost of £9Bn and £10.2Bn which suggest there might be some lurking inaccuracies in the figures. (See update No 10 Press release)
The end result of this 10 month study is (unsurprisingly):
The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to establish and support a Food Strategy Task Force to monitor ongoing developments in the food system and food markets, to drive forward implementation of all the measures in this report and to publish regular updates on progress.Overall there appear to be 4 strands or conclusions ...
1. Long term decline in food prices is over (Perhaps)
2. 70,000 premature deaths due to diets failing to matched nutritional guidelines (perhaps - more late night TV ads to the slothful) (Estimate in In quality-adjusted life years, Department of Health Page 29 no further source is provided)
3. Food is safer than ever to eat in the UK (Good)
4. The food chain has huge environmental impacts (around 18% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to food production and consumption).Page 9 "On-farm GHG emissions are set to be the focus of increasing attention in the years ahead"
This last is a curious conclusion and resort to ES.17 (Page 12 de-mystifies (slightly))
Around 18% of UK GHG emissions are related to food production and consumption.
Nearly half of these emissions come from farms, mostly in the form of methane
and nitrous oxide that fall outside current UK domestic targets for carbon
dioxide (CO2),and are beyond the scope of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and
other carbon pricing mechanisms.
The source for this highly suspect statement is Office of National Statistics (2007) Environmental Accounts, Spring 2007. See chart 2.2 for 2004 at top of post . GHG emissions 52/731,000=7.1% Acid rain = 500 / 3308 15.1% - % 'ages as total of UK. So where the 18% figure comes from is a mystery, unless in some curious mathematical way they are combined. basically it is totally meaningless, nor is any attempt made to justify it, except by an obscure out of date footnote.
More recent figures are available a were published as the Office of National Statistics (2007) Environmental Accounts, Spring 2008. published on the 3rd of June 2008
GHG = 6.9% Acid Rain = 19.1 %
So (if the figures are to be believed) Agriculture is producing less GHG - cows farting less ?
Something to brag about surely ?
ES.51 Finally, a Joint Research Strategy for Food will be prepared to ensure better coordination of departments’ food-related research spending. The strategy will identify priorities for research, and undertake monitoring and dissemination arrangements. The strategy will define a ‘virtual’ research programme that cuts across the work of those departments, and will link to Research Councils and other funders.
The report goes on an on in this vein, bold aspirations, and negligible content. Acres of committee meetings, cross departmental seminars beckon, .....international conferences....oh and (p 123) thanks are due to ... Deloitte & Touche LLP you bet.
Delivering the Government's Vision .....
here is the Kicker ....7.3 Resource implications There are no additional public expenditure implications of this report within the current Spending Review period (2008–11).
Which is probably why of only two figures used, which have been checked they appear to be inaccurate. Anyway the report is interesting as it has Gordon's signature - graphologists could work on that for a long time.... has he got any other crayons inhis box ?
PS : NO 10 have issued a Press release in which they say ,
"The food chain creates 18% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Farming and fishing contribute around half of this total." This is NOT what the report says , it does not even mention fishing and there is no explanation how the 18% figures is arrived at. Isn't Gordon supposed to be ace at arithmetic?
"A third of the food bought for home consumption is wasted – 6.7 million tonnes." We have shown above that the figure of 4.1 Mn tonnes was used in the WRAP report - an error of 60%.
"If UK diets met nutritional guidelines, 70,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year. " No source is provided for this calculation or how it is arrived at other than to say it is a "Department of health Estimate".
These are not just picky points. If basic facts and figures , much publicised, are used in quotes for the PM in a No 10 Downing Street Press release cannot be relied upon for accuracy, it is difficult to see on what basis any judgements can be made.
UPDATE Tuesday a BST On reflection the whole report is bollocks- Still puzzling over this bit ..."The strategy will define a ‘virtual’ research programme "