Thanks to global supply problems caused by the likes of the war in Ukraine, experts have claimed that a “massively dependent” Britain is only one catastrophe away from food shortages.
Having pushed through issues to do with Brexit, as well as the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, a number of experts have now claimed that the war in Ukraine has left Britain only one catastrophe away from major food shortages.
The claim however has been met with stringent denial from the country’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has insisted that the UK is not “overly reliant on the rest of the world for food”, and that the country’s exposure to food shortages is similar to that of other nations around the world.
According to a report by The Telegraph, University of London food policy professor Timothy Lang and Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, both believe that the UK could find itself in significant danger should another crisis come along like the war in Ukraine and disrupt the world’s supply of food and fertiliser further.
“Be prepared for shocks — we’ve seen the beginning of this with Covid and it’s going to get much worse,” Lang is reported by the publication as saying, with the food policy expert also claiming that “Britain doesn’t even produce half of its food”, contrary to claims made by official sources.
“I don’t know what on earth is going on in Defra for the Secretary of State in charge of food supply to be so inaccurate and inappropriate,” he continued. “My frustration is, my country is not taking it seriously, it just does knee-jerk reactions. If the Chancellor is prepared to throw £15bn at alleviating energy problems, why is he not doing this for food?”
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Lang said that the government needed to “stop assuming other people should feed us” and start focusing on boosting local horticulture projects, something which his fellow expert McKee believes would involve increasing the number of available seasonal agricultural workers.
Regardless of whether or not McKee’s assessment is in any way skewed by bias, Defra bit back at the notion that Britain is overly reliant on foreign powers for its food, saying that British farmers are responsible for a significant proportion of the food going to feed those in the country.
“We reject the claims that we are overly reliant on the rest of the world for food,” a spokesman for the government department said.
“Thanks to our farmers, we are almost 100 per cent self-sufficient in poultry and certain vegetables,” they continued. “When it comes to food we can produce here, we are 75 per cent self-sufficient.”