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GM food: British public 'should be persuaded of the benefits'

altThe British public should be persuaded of the benefits of genetically modified food, the environment secretary will tell the UK's farming industry on Thursday, in a key signal of the government's intent to expand agricultural biotechnology and make the case for GM food in Europe.

Owen Paterson, the Conservative secretary of state for the environment and who has chosen to highlight GM technology in his first major speech to farmers, will tell the Oxford Farming Conference: "We should not be afraid of making the case to the public about the potential benefits of GM beyond the food chain - for example, reducing the use of pesticides and inputs such as diesel. I believe that GM offers great opportunities but I also recognise that we owe a duty to the public to reassure them that it is a safe and beneficial innovation."

It's time to cut the obscene amount of Christmas food waste

altWhether it is because we are suckers for gluttony or incapable of calculating how much we will need to feed our family and friends for the annual Christmas feast, every year British household shamelessly end up chucking away a mountain of surplus festive food. We shop, we eat some of it and bin the rest. Much of it could be re-used and such enormous waste is drain on the environment as well as our finances.

Figures published on Thursday reveal the shocking extent of our thoughtlessness. We throw out the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 5m Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74m mince pies, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign run by the government's waste reduction advisory body, Wrap. To put it into context, that means we are binning nearly twice as many mince pies as retail giant Marks & Spencer sells every year (40m).

Live animal exports face tougher controls over welfare concerns

altFarmers, transport companies and ship operators involved in the export of live animals face tougher controls over their business as ministers seek to allay welfare concerns over the treatment of livestock.

Government inspectors are already said by ministers to be checking all shipments through Ramsgate in Kent, the only port now involved in the trade – albeit reluctantly – and this will continue until the government is satisfied "there is no longer a high risk" to animals.

Lorry companies and shippers will also not be allowed to give short notice of shipments to the agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Wednesday. This happened last month in an attempt to evade protests by welfare campaigners at the port where more than 40 sheep had to be destroyed on the advice of the RSPCA after an incident in September.

Alan Titchmarsh: We must act now

Environment UK Alan TitchmarshRHS Conference: ‘Horticulture, a Career to be Proud of’

Today, the gardening world gathered at the RHS Horticultural Halls, in London, to take the first steps to solve a serious problem; the current perception of gardening as a career. A recent RHS survey found 75 percent of under-18s think it’s a career for dropouts, and 70 percent say it was never recommended to them at school.*

As part of the first National Gardening Week, ‘Horticulture, a Career to be Proud of’, saw key figures in the gardening world**, from Kew’s top scientist to the Chelsea Show Manager, give talks to an audience made up of MPs, the media, representatives from the Horticultural and Educational Industries etc, in an effort to change the perceptions of horticulture being an unskilled, second-choice career.

‘Party on the Plot’ for National Allotments Week

Environment UK NSALGThe National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) is calling on all allotment holders across the UK to hold a ‘Party on the Plot’, during National Allotments Week (6th and 12th August 2012), as it works to galvanise community support for allotments and protect them from developers.

A recent survey conducted by the NSALG* found that 74% of its members are worried that their allotment land will be sold off and redeveloped in the future; while the Society itself receives hundreds of calls a year from allotment holders looking for advice on how best to safeguard their plots.

£60 million grants to boost rural businesses

Environment UK caroline spelmanBusinesses in rural England are to benefit from a new £60 million grant scheme that will turn ambitious business plans into reality, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.

Grants, which could be worth more than £1 million each, will enable entrepreneurs in rural areas to take life-changing opportunities to grow their businesses through the Rural Economy Grant scheme, increasing both their competitiveness and profits.

On your marks, get set, grow – launch of Olympic food growing competition

 Environment UK organic foodAs the capital prepares to host the 2012 Games this summer, Londoners are being invited to get their hands on an Olympic-inspired cash giveaway by growing their own food.

The Capital Growth scheme, which aims to create 2,012 gorwing spaces in London by the end of 2012, is launching its biggest food-growing competition ever, Grow for Gold. If you get into the starting blocks now, with support and advice from the Capital Growth gardening experts, you can grow yourself a healthy salad by the time the world’s elite athletes begin their battle for medals.

Exports of food and drink

banner-ff-food-10The farming, food, and drink sector is an important part of our economy, responsible for over 3.5 million jobs and 7% of Gross Value Added. It has a key role in driving strong and sustainable growth, particularly through exploiting overseas markets. International trade is also important in terms of improving productive efficiency and enhancing global food security.

Exports in the agri-food sector have been growing steadily, with 2010 seeing the sixth consecutive year of growth in value to £16 billion.

UTZ CERTIFIED Q3 close shows significant increase in coffee, tea and cocoa sales

Demand for sustainably sourced coffee, tea and cocoa continues to grow

UTZ CERTIFIED enjoys a sales boost in its third quarter sales. Compared to January - September 2010, certified sustainable coffee sales rose 23% in the same period this year, leading to a sale volume of 105,757 metric tons of coffee certified by UTZ in total. Tea sales also increased significantly by almost 74% for a total of 2,416 metric tons and sales of currently registered UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa have risen to 29,719 metric tons -- an impressive increase of 149% compared to the same period last year.

tapwater-logoWith the summer weather finally here keep hydrated, save money and reduce waste with the reusable lifebottle and’s network of free refilling stations.

With 51 million plastic bottles thrown away every day in the UK alone, now is the time to ditch those bottles and get back to the tap. The scheme makes tap water more accessible on the high street.

Insect snacks to undergo EU safety tests

Im-A-Celebrity-Get-Me-Out-007Retailers and natural history experts called on to provide information on exotic foods such as crickets and worm crisps

Britons used to sing a nursery rhyme about swallowing a fly, bushtucker trials have become an excruciating staple of TV's "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here" and stores and online suppliers are selling exotic snacks such as crickets and worm crisps.

Ethical consumerism can better animal welfare

ethical_foodThe demand for cheap food has impacted on animal welfare standards on British farms, says British Veterinary Association (BVA) Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) trustee, Sean Wensely.

Speaking at the 2011 BVA AWF discussion forum, Mr Wensley said the drive for ever cheaper food has resulted in poor animal welfare conditions and many of the UK farming systems are "intrinsically incapable of achieving a good quality of life for animals".