The Cabinet Office is putting out a report on Monday looking at UK food policy. It’s expected to say that one in 10 deaths – up to 70,000 a year – could be saved by people eating more healthily.
A third of cardiovascular cases and a quarter of cancer deaths are diet-related, meaning that eating five portions of fruit and veg a day could hugely reduce the burden on the NHS.
Monday’s paper is the result of a project by the Strategy Unit which began in September. The interesting thing though is what policy changes will take place as a result. A ban on advertising for the most unhealthy foods? Removal of junk food vending machines from stations and other public places? Higher taxes on high-fat products? Tax breaks for apple growers?
Given the strength of the food industry, I doubt it.
The report will also look at the hugely topical issue of biofuels. To quote from the interim report: “The FAO, IMF and others have highlighted that wealthy nations’ biofuel policies are set to have impacts on arable farmers’ cropping decisions, on livestock farmers (via feed prices) and to result ultimately in higher food prices.”
“The full climate-related impacts of farming, and especially livestock and dairy, warrant much more
attention – we need to look beyond CO2….. OECD country policies on biofuels could have unintended consequences for food-importing developing countries and poor urban populations around the world by contributing to higher food prices”
Perhaps it’s no co-incidence that the report will come out at the same time as ”Gallagher”, the long-awaited analysis of biofuels and their impact on the environment. My sources say it will be even more hard-hitting than a leak which appeared in the Guardian a while back.
Expect this message: the prime minister wants to put the brakes on the EU’s biofuels policy, which means ripping up jungle to make way for more fields – with an even more catastrophic environmental impact. Even “2nd generation” biofuels, which are made using the waste from crops, are not going to get a major thumbs-up, apparently.