Defra Green Food Project – Soil Association response
09 July 2012
The Soil Association commends many of the key findings published by Defra’s Green Food Project, but warns that the government needs to take concrete steps to turn aspiration into action. 
The report offers a welcome reality check amid recent calls to ‘feed the world’ by growing more food at any cost. While recognising that we all share a responsibility for global food security, it notes that the challenge is more complex than simply ramping up food production and that the UK also has “moral and legal obligations to protect biodiversity and the wider environment”.
The Soil Association welcomes the recognition of the need for more research to meet the challenges of feeding ourselves sustainably, now and in the future. Many of the priorities identified by the project, such as finding better ways to feed livestock using legumes, and working to increase yields in low-input systems, are shared by the Soil Association.
Tom MacMillan, Soil Association Director of Innovation, said: “We particularly welcome the report’s call for ‘two-way flows of knowledge, ideas and innovation’ from the lab to the field and back again. A big part of fixing our food system is to make sure that farmers and the public have a much bigger say in the research that is done in their name. Through the Duchy Originals Future Farming programme, funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, we’re putting a farmer-led approach to research into practice. 
“The big risk is that this report goes the same way as previous reports and recommendations for greening the food system. They failed because government didn’t take the lead that industry and the public need it to, particularly on the tough but crucial issues of sustainable consumption.
“This report is weak when it comes to the key challenge of making it easy to eat a diet that doesn’t seriously damage our own health and that of the planet. We believe that the government should be bold enough to lead a much more robust discussion about the links between production and consumption, if we are to tackle the twin challenges of environmental degradation and the growing problem of diet-related ill-health.”
For press enquiries contact the Soil Association press office:
Clio Turton, press office manager - 0117 914 2448 / 07795 562 556
Josh Stride, press & e-communications officer – 0117 314 5170 / 07717 802 183
Notes to editor:
About the Soil Association
The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. To find out more visit www.soilassociation.org