Rod Dreher

The UK government has announced a new “food security” policy — and it’s not going to make localists happy. Excerpt:

Imported beef. Genetically modified potatoes. The disappearance of those handy labels that tell you just how far your green beans travelled before reaching the grocery store shelf.

This is the stuff of Jamie Oliver’s nightmares – and all of it may come true.

The British government unveiled a national 20-year food-security manifesto Tuesday aimed at safeguarding the future of the country’s food supply, which is in danger of shrinking if certain consumer trends – the favouring of local foods over imported, the rejection of genetically modified food and reliance on “food miles” to measure the environmental cost of food – continue.

The plan argues that the way food is bought and sold in Britain must be revolutionized, and is one of the first of its kind among developed nations. But that may not be for long. International food-policy experts predict similar strategies will be cropping up in developed countries all over the world as the availability of food is increasingly linked to national security.

“We know we are at one of those moments in our history where the future of our economy, our environment, and our society will be shaped by the choices we make now,” Hilary Benn, Britain’s secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said in announcing the strategy at a farming conference in Oxford.

“Food security is as important to this country’s future well-being … as energy security. We know that the consequences of the way we produce and consume our food are unsustainable to our planet and to ourselves,” he said.

So, let me get this straight: we have to abandon local food traditions, which are only now starting to recover from mass industrialization, and start importing more of our food from afar, all in the name of national security, environmentalism and solidarity with the poor? Does the British government really consider the country’s small farms as a threat to national security? Amazing. As the friend who e-mailed this story commented drily, “Monsanto wins again.”

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