Dwindling oil stocks and EU trade and energy policies threaten food price hikes and could cause food shortages in the UK, according to a new report by Green Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas.
The report calls on the government to establish a Royal Commission on Food Security to examine the issue.
It also suggests the UK’s Competition Commission considers its findings in its ongoing investigation of the supermarkets’ dominance of the food retailing sector.
Fuelling a Food Crisis examines the dependence of the EU’s food supplies on oil – for production, processing and transport – and concludes that food prices are becoming increasingly linked with those of oil, and therefore more exposed to the price volatility of the energy sector.
“Future oil price rises will have a massive impact on food security, and unless we address the problem now, we could face the prospect of food shortages in the UK – one of Europe’s largest food importers – and the possibility of starvation in some developing countries,” said Dr Lucas.
The report warns that we must change energy, trade and agriculture policies at an EU level if we are to avoid a food crisis precipitated by ‘Peak Oil’ – the point at which half of global oil production has been consumed, and beyond which extraction goes into irreversible decline, and prices rise accordingly.
Many industry experts predict that Peak Oil will happen by 2020. But an increasing number argue we are close to, or have already passed, the peak of oil production.
“We have to decouple the food and oil markets – by cutting agriculture’s dependence on oil, by promoting local and organic food systems where possible and reversing the UK’s current enthusiasm for international trade in food, and revising EU energy policies which risk promoting bio-fuel production at the expense of foodstuffs,” said Dr Lucas.