Soil Association comment on the Government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Sustainable food
13 September 2012
The focus on agricultural innovation is welcome, but does not go far enough in recognising that new approaches will be needed in a new era of resource and climate constrained agriculture, rather than simply more of the same. Organic and other agroecological approaches warrant particular attention because they focus on farming within environmental limits. Combined with a shift towards healthier, more plant-based diets, they offer solutions to many of the critical environmental, social and economic challenges facing our current food and farming system. Such approaches call for practical, interdisciplinary research that is currently the exception not the rule.
We urge the Government to support a radically different model of agricultural innovation from the top-heavy system where problems are defined and tackled by lab scientists, research funders and marketers, then sold to farmers. We urge the Government to start with the real needs of farmers and the public, and fully involve them in finding humane and workable solutions.
The Government’s response does not take the lead that industry and the public need it to, particularly on the tough but crucial issue of sustainable consumption. It must address 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 welcome the fact that the Government has joined hundreds of organisations including schools, hospitals and the National Trust in recognising the importance of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark  (now verifying almost 110 million meals per year) in giving the public power to ensure that the food being provided outside of the home is addressing the challenge of being healthy, locally produced and environmentally sustainable”.
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Notes to Editors:
The Government’s response to the environmental audit committee’s enquiry on sustainable food:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmenvaud/567/56704.htm
The Soil Association’s response* to the Environmental Audit Committee’s enquiry on sustainable food can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenvaud/879/879we05.htm
*The Soil Association also gave oral evidence to the enquiry
 The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark (www.sacert.org/catering) offers a vehicle for local and national Government to champion continuous improvement in food served in schools, hospitals, nurseries and workplaces not covered by the Government Buying Standards. Its stepping stone approach rewards increasing use of seasonal, local, organic ingredients, sustainable fish and high-welfare meat and provision of healthier menus based around fresh whole foods.
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. Soil Association Certification Ltd., the Soil Association’s certification subsidiary, certifies around 80% of organic farming and food processing in the UK. To find out more visit www.soilassociation.org