The first significant assessment of the British food system in 75 years is to be led by Henry Dimbleby, co-founder and non-executive director of restaurant chain, Leon.
The review will investigate the entire food system, from field to fork; looking at interlocking issues of environment, agriculture, health and business including the responsibilities of retailers and restaurants, to formulate a National Food Strategy for England.
The strategy is intended to look at creating both a financially and environmentally resilient and sustainable agriculture sector ensuring safe, traceable, affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. The strategy is only intended to cover England but will also consider relationships with the devolved administrations, the EU and other trading partners.
Dimbleby will be creating a Citizen’s Assembly; a large panel of citizens, randomly selected, but balanced to reflect the demographics of the nation. This assembly will listen to testimony from experts, debate the issues and advise us on their findings on such topics as; what do we want our countryside to look like? what role should the government play to protect us from our ‘bad’ dietary choices?
The year-long review will be followed by recommendations within 6 months of its’ completion. The Government will then publish a multi-disciplinary National Food Strategy via a White Paper. There would then be continuing cross-government engagement on the strategy given that “many potential issues for inclusion fall outside Defra’s direct remit” so “effective and sustained cross Government working will be critical to the strategy’s success.”
The terms of reference for the review are accessible here and highlight the importance of food security;
“The world’s population is growing, with mass migration to cities, resource competition intensifying between nations, huge stress on water supplies and climate change altering what the land is capable of supplying.
Trade barriers are re-emerging and new public health dangers are growing, from anti-microbial resistance to viral mutations.
It is critical to review how we secure the food of the future.”
A formal call for evidence is to be issued shortly.