New Parliamentary group will promote green farming

MPS and peers of all parties have come together to promote environmentally friendly farming as the solution to the global food security problem.

The new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Agroecology attracted ‘one of the best-ever turn-outs’ for an APPG launch, according Baroness Sue Miller, one of the founding members of the group.

She said the interest in the event at the Palace of Westminster reflected the importance attached to environmentally-friendly farming.

“There is no more important subject than how to feed the world without using the resource equivalent of two or three planet Earths,” Baroness Miller said.

Agroecology, defined as ‘applying ecological concepts and principles to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems’ is seen by some as the antidote to the model of ‘sustainable intensification’, promoted by the recent Foresight report on global food and farming.

The all party group, which will meet every month that Parliament is sitting, will promote the concept within Parliament through, for example, inviting experts to brief MPs, peers ands advisers and publishing briefings on agroecological issues. It will also lobby Ministers and Shadow Ministers directly and through Early Day Motions, debates and Parliamentary Questions.

The group contains a number of politicians who either have connections to farming or who have campaigned on farming issues. These include Lib Dem MPs Tim Farron, Roger Williams and Andrew George, new Tory MP Zac Goldsmithm, former Defra Minister Michael Meacher, OP campaigner, the Countess of Mar and Robert Fiello, who introduced the Sustainable Livestock Bill to Parliament last year.

It is backed by organisations that campaign for environmentally friendly farming, including Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association and the Campaign for Real Farming.

Colin Tudge, founder of the Campaign for Real Farming and the Oxford Real Farming Conference, said the launch was timely coming after the publication of Government Chief Scientist Professor John Beddington’s Foresight report

“While there’s much that’s useful in the Beddington report, unfortunately there’s also an air of panic about it. It acknowledges we’re facing shortages of oil, phosphorus, fresh water and so on, all of which are likely to affect our current methods of farming,” he said.

“Its solution is to turn immediately to high-tech solutions, yet the problem is not a matter of ideology, but biology. With 4.2 billion hectares of global farmland available, feeding a population of 9.5 billion shouldn’t be a problem,”

What’s needed is government commitment to food security through its support for a healthy, modern agriculture.”

The following Parliamentarians are members of the Group:

  • The Rt Hon Lord Philip Hunt (Lab)
  • Countess of Mar (CB)
  • Baroness Miller (LibDem)
  • Bishop of London (Ind)
  • Lord Walpole (CB)
  • Lord Redesdale (LibDem)
  • Tim Farron (LibDem)
  • Robert Fiello (Lab)
  • Andrew George (LibDem)
  • Zac Goldsmith (Con)
  • Oliver Heald (Con)
  • Kate Hoey (Lab)
  • MarQn Horwood (LibDem)
  • Jeremy Lefroy (Con)
  • Caroline Lucas (Green)
  • Michael Meacher (Lab)
  • Tessa Munt (LibDem)
  • Dan Rogerson (LibDem)
  • Joan Ruddock (Lab)
  • Angela Smith (Lab)
  • Gary Streeter (Con)
  • John Thurso (LibDem)
  • Roger Williams (LibDem)
  • Dr Sarah Wollaston (Con)
  • Tim Yeo (Con)


Readers' comments (6)

  • When will these people learn , the only choice is between modern agriculture , or no agriculture . Agroecology will lead to no agriculture, in the practical world where systems work or they don't work Agroecology dosn't work . It only works in the insane fantasies of people like Colin Tudge with his Enlightened Farming for example . As for sustainable intensification what does it mean ?? My answer is nothing .

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  • Stan, modern agriculture CAN involve elements of agroecology. I know it sounds unlikely, but try looking at some of Jules Pretty's work. He looked at 286 projects in 57 developing countries - the biggest study of its kind - and found an average 79% increase in yield from farming systems incorporating these principles. Not necessarily organic in the strictest sense, but systems that don't rely on soil-degrading chemicals allow farmers to preserve and nourish the soil. I'll admit that having spokesmen such as Mr Tudge involved doesn't necessarily help the cause, but look beyond him and listen to what's being said - much of it is sensible, intelligent and realistic.

    As for Anonymous' comments - I have just looked at WUWT. It's about climate change, which may or may not happen. However, what is certain is that our finite resources of oil and gas will run out, and if we carry on as we are then we will be without food, for our current system of food production is based completely on oil availability, from fertiliser to pesticides to transport.

    I, for one, would quite like to think about viable alternatives before we reach that stage.

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  • Openminded Farmer .Look fetiliser is based from gas and the world gas price is at the lowest it can be. If the world population is incresing then shouldnt we be DRAMATICALLY increasing food production. As for fertiliser we have 250 years worth of gas supplies. In IRAQ there has been a discovery of the biggest gas in 30years.

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  • 'Green Farming'. . World solutions to global food poverty from 'Little ol' England'. . My, my; sounds impressive doesn't it! . . Things like returning nutrients to the soil and improving it with regular fertilizing and muck spreading. . Such forward thinking! . . Funny! . . I thought that it was green farming that gave us this Green and Pleasant Land in the first place. . Next thing it will be 'Dig for England'! .

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  • Unfortunately hot air is virtually sterile and has no use at all in any agricultural application. Will this lot produce anything else? I doubt it.

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