Memorandum submitted by the Centre for
Holistic Studies (India) UK network (O79)
CHSUK would broadly support Option 1 of the
three presented by Defra in 2003 for the following reasons:
1. Employment: CHSUK advocates the strengthening
of local/regional economies; three members have worked with Localise
West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands to promote the public
procurement of food from the region, or at least grown in this
country, wherever possible. This would include sugar from beet,
rather than cane.
2. Food miles: CHSUK members support the
food miles concept; use of UK and European sugar would bring about
a transport-related reduction in congestion and pollution, also
conserving oil resources. At present we import and export sugar,
milk, beef and other foods; this is contrary to commonsense, counter
to climate change measures and the general good, though obviously
enhancing a few balance sheets.
3. Traceability is increasingly valued by
the European consumer. Sugar production in the UK has greatly
improved its environmental standards according to a Defra survey.
We are pleased to see an organic pilot project in the Nottingham
4. Food security is a prime factor; reliance
on the importation of basic food leaves the country vulnerable
to interruption of supply. An increase in food production and
processing for domestic consumption and the related education/training
would enhance social harmony by offering worthwhile employment
opportunities to those who currently have no hope for the future,
with lives therefore blighted by addiction, crime, or ill-health
of body and mind.
Meaningful trade in surpluses and exotics would
5. Just price: we would like to see a gradual
transition from the present system to one in which farmers were
paid a fair price for their produce, calculated as advised in
the excellent 2003 report by the Royal Association of British
Dairy Farmers. Output-related subsidies could be phased out and
grants given only on rare occasions "to even out nature's
boom and bust" as Hilary Wilson, a Cumbrian hill farmer puts
Paragraph 6 raises an issue which I have not yet
6. Use of water resources: on 3 November
2003 Professor Frank Rijsberman chaired the Challenge Programme
on Water and Food in Nairobi, which urged international trade
negotiators to look at the impact of their proposals on how water
is used by the world's farmers. CHSUK asks the Efra Committee
to give paramount importance to the sustainable use of water resources,
bearing in mind Defra's commitment in its 2002 Strategy for Sustainable
Farming and Food:
(To) Respect and operate within the biological
limits of natural resources. (Page 12)
Conflict over increasingly scarce water-resources
is predicted. Because our Indian centre is in sugar-cane growing
Maharashtra I have become aware that a great deal of sugar-cane
can only be grown for export by depriving other food producers
of irrigation water and fellow citizens of clean drinking water.
The industry uses 80% of irrigation wateron 3-4% of cultivable
land. The remarks of the chief economist of the CRISIL Centre
for Economic research, Subir Gokarn apply equally to the Brazilian
and Tanzanian cases:
Our cultivation pattern has shifted in favour
of water intensive crops like rice, sugar cane etc. This is happening
even in water-scarce areas. So conflicts over water will occur
with greater frequency. Times of India "Rating the
In Brazil, described as the main world producer
of sugar-cane, the Environment Minister Marina Silva deplored
that fact that part of the population has no access to clean drinking
water. Much of the country is semi-arid, the sparsely populated
Amazon jungle region having 68% of its water.
Tanzanian sugar also has to be irrigated.
Instead of importing such countries'
water in the form of cane sugar, we believe that regions able
to grow largely rain-fed beet should be encouraged to do so, in
their own interestsleaving water-scarce exporting countries
to diversify into more suitable crops for their own consumption.
14 April 2004