there is an underlying tension throughout [Food Matters] that may explain why the Downing Street soundbites threw the food crisis back to individuals and their waste. It recognises that the agribusiness model of food production based on global competition has failed to deliver, but the government remains wedded to the idea that food markets, like all other markets, are best left to regulate themselves. It wants the food chain reshaped but does not want to edit our choices. It wants to run with the free market, yet trade in food has never been truly free.
Concentrations of corporate power in the global food system distort competition. The government has no plan to address them. The US and EU have retained trade barriers and agricultural protections as they urge poorer countries to liberalise food markets. Britain can't wean the US off its farm bills, nor a biofuels policy that diverts a third of the corn crop to petrol tanks at the expense of global food prices. Nor can it persuade the French to reform the common agricultural policy faster. Moreover, the market has no effective mechanisms for putting a price on the things that matter most: the nutritional, environmental and social costs of production.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Ministry of Food