With the referendum really heating up in recent weeks, there has been a surplus of outlandish claims coming from both sides. With plenty of column inches already dedicated to the Prime Minister's scaremongering about the dangers of World War 3 if we Leave the EU, the ordinary voter can understandably come to the conclusion the whole referendum issue is a bit of a storm in a teacup...
Food security is a major global issue. There are many facets of this complex issue, but there is a critical one that continues to be overlooked. This blind spot amounts to ignoring one of the most useful aides to people in the developing world, and the loss of a huge opportunity for international development. It is the contribution of working horses, donkeys and mules.
The headline figure is that we only provide 62% of the country's food supply. And this is set to get worse. The UK is on course to become the most populous country in the European Union - an estimated 77million people by 2040 - and official figures suggest our ability to feed ourselves will drop to just 53% by then. So, my message today is: it is time to Back British Farming.
As a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in the European Parliament I have questioned the wisdom behind aspects of the CAP's aims and implementation and I intend to be no less vocal on its contribution to the growing problem of land grabbing in the EU. Inequality is a growing curse in society: a growing inequality in land ownership will only exacerbate matters further.
We are living in an age where organic eating is becoming increasingly more popular in Britain. Local farmers markets and organic food cafes are the 'in thing' meaning consumers can enjoy a more personable and educational experience, knowing where their food has come from and that local farmers are supported in the process.
This is the first time MRSA of livestock origin has been found in British pig meat. The findings add to the growing evidence that overuse of antibiotics in farming is contributing to resistance in life-threatening infections in humans, and supports the call for urgent action to address inappropriate use in farming.
Agricultural development through productivity improvements, crop intensification, irrigation, and investment in infrastructure has significantly improved food security and the seasonal dimension of hunger worldwide in recent years. Yet seasonal hunger still persists among the rural poor, and should not be lost within poverty statistics or forgotten when addressing chronic hunger in policymaking.
The next few months will see the closest fought election in a generation. Already the economy, welfare, health and education have been occupying headline space as some of the most important issues which affect people and therefore their vote. But where is food in this debate? More importantly, where is safe, secure, traceable British food?
Feeding a growing global population of nine billion people by 2050 is one of the world's biggest challenges--especially in the context of rapid urbanisation, rising amounts of food waste and climate change. During one day of discussions senior executives from agribusiness, policymaking and the NGO community examined approaches to food and nutrition security.
When it was broadcast on the radio "eat less" came out as a ridiculous blunder - as if I had said that people who were hungry or could only afford to eat hamburgers should eat less. Of course poor people don't have any choice. Half the world is hungry, poverty increases; everyone is so worried. Therefore people were angry with me. Luckily the press then reported my interview in full and this cleared up what I was really trying to say. They quoted me, "What's good for the planet is good for people". Most importantly the press then posted the fundamental question: Is Big Ag.( agricultural capitalism) good or bad? This is the urgent debate we must have.