National Food Strategy
Part One of the National Food Strategy was published earlier this month. Henry Dimbleby was tasked by Michael Gove, then Secretary of State at Defra, to gather a team of experts, take evidence and produce a comprehensive report on the UK food system. The process was set back by Covid-19 and this first part concentrates on the impact on the food system of the pandemic together with the implications of the UK’s secession from the European Union. Part Two will be published next year.
The blanket ban on neonicotinoid insecticides is to be lifted in France in an attempt to save the sugar beet industry, the largest in Europe. Since use was banned in April 2018, sugar beet has suffered increasingly from virus yellows, a disease spread by the peach potato aphid. Alternative insecticides have proven ineffective and the virus has caused yield losses of 25% to 50%. Neonicotinoid seed dressing will be allowed next year and, if necessary, for the two following years. Similar derogations have been given in Belgium, Spain and Poland. Defra has no plans to allow a similar derogation in the UK despite British Sugar’s claim that the ban is not warranted for sugar beet as it does not flower and thus has no connection with bees.
Genetically Modified Tobacco
Scientists, genetically modifying tobacco using an enzyme from cyanobacteria and a protein from algae to improve photosynthesis efficiency significantly, were amazed to find that the plants needed far less water to produce the higher yields. Now the scientists at the University of Essex at Colchester are looking to see whether the same technique could be used in other crops in drought prone areas.
Cod off the Menu?
The population of cod in our fishing waters is falling significantly as sea water temperatures rise as a result of climate change. Cod is a cold water species and may lose its place as a favourite on menus and in fish and chip shops. However, other fish that prefer warmer waters are increasing in abundance, amongst them red mullet, John Dory, Dover and lemon sole.