Sunday, 10 September 2017

Idiotic attention seeking of the week

From The Evening Standard:

With London’s population set to explode over the next decade, the Evening Standard and agri-science firm Syngenta are investigating the potential impact — and how innovation in farming could help reduce it.

Extra farmland more than one and a half times the size of London will have to be cultivated to grow the food needed for the capital’s booming population by 2031, according to new analysis... On current trends, over the next quarter of a century an area of fields three times the size of Camden will have to be cultivated with wheat. Land the size of Lewisham will be required for the extra potatoes consumed by Londoners, the research reveals.

Gary Mills-Thomas, Syngenta’s UK and Ireland head, said: “We are extremely excited about this unique opportunity to raise awareness on the facts and figures behind food production and the vital role played by modern farming in ensuring the required food supplies in our societies. Also this event is giving us the opportunity to listen and take on board the opinions and concerns of the general public on these matters.

“At Syngenta we believe that an open and constructive relationship with society will strengthen our commitment to continuously invest in research and innovation in order to provide farmers with advanced solutions for a sustainable quality food production.”

The argument was challenged by Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, who said: “What Syngenta fails to mention is that we are required by UK law to cut greenhouse emissions from food and farming by 80 per cent by 2050. Scientists agree that the only way we can achieve this, and feed everyone a healthy diet by 2050, is to adopt agro-ecological farming systems such as organic, review diets, and do without most or all manufactured fertilisers."


Do either of them really expect anybody to take them seriously?

It is people how eat food, and they eat much the same amount of food wherever they live. If more people live in London then there will be fewer people living elsewhere, total amount of food consumed unchanged, it is a complete non-problem.

So Syngenta are just lobbying for permission to peddle their wares, as is the Soil Association, who appear to want to impose a system which will produce less food. Hooray for looking after the environment and so on, but if their way really were more productive, then farmers would be doing it anyway.

18 comments:

John Fry said...

Charlies keen on this kind of rubbish so they can grow the extra in Buckingham Palace gardens and the Royal Parks - problem solved.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JF, he's usually on the wrong side of the argument.

Bayard said...

“What Syngenta fails to mention is that we are required by UK law to cut greenhouse emissions from food and farming"

Really? By law? I don't think so. We've probably signed up to some international accord to do that, but that doesn't make it the law. In any case, how would we do that anyway, given that a large part of greenhouse gases emiited in farming are in the form of methane from cows and sheep.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that's the sort of thing which makes him seem incredibly stupid. No law stops any individual from burning stuff or farting.

paulc156 said...

It's eminently possible to reduce emissions on farms whether they be nitrous oxide or methane. Methane inhibitors that reduce dairy cow emissions without affecting milk yields is one way. Also, breeds of cattle that produce lower methane. Reducing use of nitrogen fertilizers another. Better crop management techniques etc.Biggest obstacle is thick farmers. Many don't even realise their farms are responsible for emissions. Less meat consumption on the demand side would be a good thing too. Lots of ways to achieve that.

Lola said...

Living in the countryside, it seems to me from simple observation that arable farming needs two things. Sunshine and diesel.

Graeme said...

Bayard, the EU has been captured by Big Green and is in the process of dictating future emission levels. It is all part of the mission-creep from customs union to single market to..... The EU started to impose environmental standards as they realised that there was potential arbitrage between individual countries and that would never do

Lola said...

G. Ahh. The old 'scocial(ist)market' v 'competition'. Or as the EU would have it 'unfair regulation/tax competition'.

ontheotherhand said...

What about the extra bananas, tea, heck even the beans in baked beans come from hot climes. Does their watertight argument mean that we need to build a giant greenhouse over Sussex if London is to handle the population increase?

Mark Wadsworth said...

OTOH, exactly.

paulc156 said...

Thinking about it...seeing as we have a much touted 'obesity' problem in the UK as elsewhere we probably do need to produce somewhat less or at least consume less which should in effect mean we produce less since we shouldn't [wouldn't] be able to export much home grown foodstuffs were it not for the large subsidies operating in agriculture. I think a combination of more niche organic farming combined with progress in GMO [so long as patents aren't granted to Monsanto etc] would both enable more food to be produced on less acreage and simultaneously less food but of superior quality and less damaging to the environment produced via organic methods. Less emissions, less poor use of land. sorted.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, do ever think about what you are saying?

Sure, some people are obese. So you want to push up food prices for everybody? Who's to say fatties will reduce food spend instead of cutting back on something else?

We also have a lot of painfully skinny people. So on that basis, we should grow more food and make it cheaper.

What you are recommending is collective punishment.

Bayard said...

P156c Yes, I could see the covert vegetarian agenda, but wasn't going to mention it.

Fewer cows would probably be a good thing, as would better treatment of pigs, but sheep can live on ground unsuited to arable.

Graeme said...

EU control of agriculture has had some weird side-effects. Remember the wine lake that grew in the 70s and 80s,when subsidies meant that farmers grew dodgy grapes on highly marginal land because they would receive subsidies? To turn it even marginally drinkable wine, it was mixed with wine from Algeria. And then Spain and Portugal joined the EU. To keep the lake under control, the subsidies were reduced, thus stopping the really poor grapes and encouraging more professional wine - making. Then decrees came in about, for example, about methods of keeping vines alive in the frosts of Northern Europe, so that every country, including the UK, could have a wine industry that was not competed away by geographically more favourable regions. Meanwhile the Algerian wine industry has died and Romania, Bulgaria and Greece have joined the club. But the EU is not bothered by destroying the Algerian wine industry, just by the migrants from a destroyed society

paulc156 said...

B. I am in favour of less meat eating so would be happy to argue for it on almost any pretext :) Regards sheep, less of them would be a great aid to flood defences if the land they grazed was replaced with trees.

paulc156 said...

MW. Why so serious? Come on lighten up a little. I'm just positing possible side benefits by proposing a bit of anti speciesism.

Bayard said...

P156c, contrary to what that great ovophobe, Monbiot, says, sheep actually make the ground more porous. It's cattle and horses that compact it. OTOH pigs are happy to live in woods.

paulc156 said...

I'm not aware that sheep 'don't' compact the soil. Almost anything that walks on it would surely do so?
They certainly denude it though and they often require it be cleared to accomodate them.
It's a straight choice between sheep on the one hand or trees,scrub or vegetation on the other. The latter absorbs a great deal of water, the former just delivers runoff. When you consider the massive subsidy these farms get we only need to remove it in order to improve flood defences and reduce emissions.
No heavy hand of the state required. It's a libertarians dream...isn't it?