Azara Blog: Yet another pointless government report, this time on the future of farming

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Date published: 2011/01/25

The BBC says:

A UK government-commissioned study into food security has called for urgent action to avert global hunger.

The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures says the current system is unsustainable and will fail to end hunger unless radically redesigned.

It is the first study across a range of disciplines deemed to have put such fears on a firm analytical footing.

The report is the culmination of a two-year study, involving 400 experts from 35 countries.

According to the government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, the study provides compelling evidence for governments to act now.

The report emphasises changes to farming, to ensure that increasing yields does not come at the expense of sustainability and to provide incentives to the agricultural sector that address malnutrition.

It also recommends that the most resource-intensive types of food are curbed and that waste is minimised in food production.
The report adds that new research can play an important role. It also says that the use of any particular technology, such as genetic modification, cloning and nanotechnology should not be ruled out. But it acknowledges that there is resistance to the application of controversial technologies.

"Achieving a strong evidence base (of the safety or otherwise) in controversial areas is not enough. Genuine public debate needs to play a crucial role," the report says.

It is unfortunate that so much time and money is wasted on such reports, which are almost universally ignored by government (in terms of concrete action) and which are likely to be completely forgotten a few weeks after publication.

And it is obvious, to all but the anti-technology zealots, that "genetic modification, cloning and nanotechnology" have roles to play. But it is impossible to have "genuine public debate", because the anti-technology zealots (Greenpeace, FoE, etc.) are not open to debate. These people do not accept 20th century food technology, never mind 21st century food technology. It is basically a matter of (religious) faith for them. There is very little scientists can do to change this situation, except to work to deploy the technology in countries where these zealots have less power and influence.

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