Stock-free farming gives MPs food for thought

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Stock-free farming gives MPs food for thought.

Jasmijn-de-Boo and Kerry McCarthy

Whilst almost 1 billion humans go to bed hungry each night, MPs asked this week, “Why is food enough for 3.5 billion human beings still being wasted in the global animal farming industry?” During the World Vegan Day Adjournment Speech, Kerry McCarthy MP also exposed the shocking fact that animal farming consumes seven times more grain than biofuels. In the Debate on Tuesday 1 November 2011, the question was put, “Would it not be better to use the food that we produce more efficiently by feeding it directly to human beings?”

Kerry McCarthy MP, who has been vegan for 20 years, said, “Meat consumption is an incredibly inefficient way to feed the planet. … We hear a lot about biofuels and deforestation, but whereas in 2009 about 100 million tonnes of crops were being diverted to create biofuels, around 760 million tonnes were being used to feed animals. As Raj Patel wrote in his excellent book Stuffed and Starved, ‘The amount of grains fed to US livestock would be enough to feed 840 million people on a plant-based diet’.”

James Paice (Minister of State [Agriculture and Food], Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) responded to Kerry McCarthy’s speech, “There is no doubt that, as the Foresight report made clear, the current food system is consuming the world’s natural resources at an unsustainable rate. I agree with the hon. Lady about that. At this rate we will continue to degrade our environment, compromise the world’s capacity to produce food in the future, and contribute to climate change and further destruction of our biodiversity. The status quo is not an option, which is why we in DEFRA have put the importance of sustainable food and farming at the forefront of what we are doing.”

Vegan Society CEO, Jasmijn de Boo said today, “It is timely that politicians are becoming increasingly interested in plant-based farming, and living, to tackle global hunger. I was delighted to meet around 15 MPs, as well as over 60 other Parliamentary Assistants and staff, at Westminster on World Vegan Day. We gave our Global Food Security report to them all, setting out ways in which crop farming can benefit farmers and consumers, both in rich countries like the UK and in the Global South. I am encouraged to see this growing political will to transition to more sustainable stock-free methods of farming.”
The UK is a world-leader on ‘stock-free’ farming – producing sustainable, nutritious, delicious food by farming without animals. Stock-free farming is also a proven model for economically sustainable rural livelihoods, helping farmers to control their spending on farm inputs. Farmers in the Global South can also enjoy many benefits if they choose to adopt stock-free farming, such as increased resilience against drought.

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Notes for Editors

  1. An estimated 925 million people were undernourished in 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Rome: FAO; 2011. (accessed 2 Nov 2011)
  2. Grain sufficient to meet the calorie needs of 3.5 billion humans is removed from the human food chain by the global animal farming industry each year. United Nations Environment Programme. The environmental food crisis. Nairobi: UNEP; 2009. (accessed 18 Oct 2011)
  3. Stuffed and Starved. Raj Patel. Portobello, 2007.
  4. The Foresight project asked, “How can a future global population of 9 billion people all be fed equitably and sustainably?” in their Global Food and Farming Futures report. London: Government Office for Science 2011. (accessed 2 Nov 2011, published 24 Jan 2011).
  5. ‘Stock-free’ farming avoids any use of domesticated animals, including animal manures and slaughterhouse by-products.
  6. World Vegan Day falls on 1 November every year, launching November as World Vegan Month.
  7. Founded in November 1944, The Vegan Society promotes vegan lifestyles - which exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Registered Charity No. 279228, Company Registration No. 1468880 Registered in England & Wales, VAT Registration No. 448 5973 95


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