RECENT PRESENTATIONS : The complex world of food production
Professor John Wibberley made an amusing, interesting and stimulating presentation about many aspects of food production to Bishopsteignton Probus Club.
Professor Wibberley acknowledged the significant ecological advantages of small-scale family farming in parts of India and Africa which does not involve large scale fertiliser or high wastage. Instead they use animal urine and manure to enrich compost and use wasted crop by-products as animal food and bedding. In contrast, large scale farming creates longer food chains, more food wastage and a cost/price squeeze on farmers through smaller margins driven by multi-national corporations which run most of the world’s food-processing plants and distribution networks, including Kellogg’s, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever.
Despite massive food production internationally, one in eight people go to bed hungry whilst in this country we throw away a third of the food we buy. We produce only sixty per cent of the food we consume and some sixteen UK dairy farmers are going out of business every week because the supermarkets pay barely enough money to cover farmer’s costs, leaving little and sometimes no profit for farmers.
John Wibberley commented on other ethical issues, including genetically modified (GM) crops and over-use of antibiotics. He welcomed the current NHS campaign to reduce antibiotic use, saying that antibiotics are both the best and the worst medicines available to both humans and in agriculture; best if we use them only as intended ‘as a last resort’ and worst when over-prescribed ‘like smarties’
Professor Wibberley (left) is thanked by club member Ken Cassidy