WWF calls for transformation of UK’s ‘inherently inefficient’ food system

Conservation organisation WWF has called for a transformation of the UK’s food system which currently fuels climate change and the destruction of the natural world.

A report from the WWF found that 40% of the UK’s productive, arable land (two million hectares) was being used to grow wheat and barley to feed farm animals instead of people.

Currently, half of the country’s wheat harvest feeds livestock such as chickens and pigs but could instead produce nearly 11 billion loaves of bread.

Replacing soy and cereal based animal feeds with food waste and innovative ingredients including insects could free up land space to grow food for people, creating space for nature and increasing efficiency, the report says.

Relying on 850,000 hectares of land to grow soy crops used to feed pigs and poultry, this farming contributes to the destruction of habitats such as Brazil’s Cerrado, home to vulnerable animals including giant anteaters.

READ MORE: Old Mout Cider and WWF announce multi-million-pound wildlife conservation campaign

One approach considered by the wildlife charity includes transforming the current food system to pasture-based, replacing up to one quarter of poultry’s food with foraged vegetation, nuts, berries, insects and slugs.

Although this would require a reduction in the number of livestock in the UK, cows and sheep are largely fed on grazing pastures which could be a key part of a wildlife-friendly farming system.

The report notes that people in the UK currently consume more calories, protein and animal sources products than recommended with experts claiming that more than half of our protein should come from plant-based sources.

“With food prices soaring, we can’t afford to stay locked into a food system that’s not fit for purpose,” WWF creative director of advocacy and campaigns, Kate Norgrove said.

“To make our food system truly shock-resistant we need to accelerate a shift to sustainable production, including rethinking the way we are using huge quantities of the UK’s most productive land to grow food for livestock instead of people.”

“UK governments can future-proof our food and bring huge benefits for nature and climate at the same time by ramping up support for farmers to transform our landscapes, making space for nature in farms and forests, fields and fens.”

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