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Feast or famine

That we're facing an uncertain future of food supply has been talked about and pondered over for a decade or more, underpinned by high quality research from Tim Laing, The Soil Association and many others. Today's article in the Observer by the UK government's chief scientist, John Beddinington makes yet another call for action on food security and the need to increase resilience of supplies.

The article quotes Beddington's comments from earlier this year:

"It was an ecological disaster that occurred on the other side of the planet. Yet the drought that devastated the Australian wheat harvest last year had consequences that shook the world. It sent food prices soaring in every nation. Wheat prices across the globe soared by 130%, while shopping bills in Britain leapt by 15%.

A year later and the cost of food today has still to fall to previous levels. More alarmingly, scientists are warning that far worse lies ahead. A "perfect storm" of food shortages and water scarcity now threatens to unleash public unrest and conflict in the next 20 years, the government's chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, has warned.

In Britain, a global food shortage would drive up import costs and make food more expensive, just as the nation's farmers start to feel the impact of disrupted rainfall and rising temperatures caused by climate change. "If we don't address this, we can expect major destabilisation, an increase in rioting and potentially significant problems with international migration, as people move to avoid food and water shortages".

As with many similar issues, I sense that it will be a combintation of in-built intertia to anything other than short term threats, lack of information and a lack of ability in systems thinking that will make things far more difficult for us, our children, and more importantly, the billions of people in the global south who cannot buy their way out of trouble.

Here's what you can do:

Little Do: write to the Chair of your local council asking what strategic plans are in place to prevent food security causing major problems in your area, and ask if there's anything that you and your colleagues can do to help.

Big Do 1: learn, or re-learn how to grow your own food in your garden or on a local allotment, and talk to members of your community to find out what they are doing too.

Big Do 2: Get involved with a joint collaboration between the Earth Open Source organisation and Ecosapiens to create a draft national food security response for Wales.

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