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back to article Trousers Brown: Blighty faces 'food security' threat

Just in case we didn't all have enough to panic about these days - what with energy prices, global financial gloom, impending ecopocalypse, terrorism etc - the government says any British trouser not yet besmirched by fear is definitely worn by someone who isn't paying attention. Apart from all of the above, we now face a "food …

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Anonymous Coward

Problem solved.

Plenty of that there long pig..

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Anonymous Coward

in addition, we will need to cut the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.

I think labours powerful is not far from god's powers.

Go on Gordon Split the sea let us all cross it to a better land that has less rules and regulations

This is getting pathetic and I have two clever solutions for these clever people:

2 solutions

1. Nuke us all - so no energy wasted no oxyen breathed no food eaten

2. Put us all in metal containers provide us with set oxygen water bread

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Nanny knows worst?

Once upon a time, this country could feed itself. But government decided that such an idea was old fashioned and unnecessary.

Once upon a time, waste food would be collected, sterilised and fed to pigs. But government decided that such an idea was dangerous and unnecessary.

Now, whose policies result in expensive and wasted food?

BTW, BOGOFF deals result in savings to people who take advantage of them. To stop supermarkets offering such deals will result in an increase in food costs to the very part of the population that cannot afford to pay full price.

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Brown. Look to yourself.

Get on with running the country properly. If you did that, we'd respect you more when you were telling us how to live our lives.

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Flame

Hypocracy

This is the same government that refuses to allow ploughing of the whole field because we might kill some bugs,

That announced that agriculture was not a strategic industry less than 12 months ago.

That stop me using the best chemicals because they are out of patent and no one will pay for the testing,

That sacrifice hectares of land to the sea because they cant be bothered to rebuild the defences,

That drown square kilometers of grade one agricultural land Cambridgeshire so that a few birds get a comfy roost,

That today refuses to cull badgers to save dairy herds because of 'cultural issues'.

That supports increasing the UK population by allowing limitless immigration That supports fertility treatment for people for whom nature determines shouldn't reproduce

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Anonymous Coward

excellent

Excellent article, the wider picture is perfectly laid out. maybe there is a little something to be said about food waste, but not in an Energy/water/security context.

Could i suggest that Gordon throws away a little more of his food?

- as most of us should really, or not buy it, whatever.

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Well that makes sense

A fine piece of writing. Which of course means no one will listen (okay, read) and therefore nothing will change. Worse, someone very soon is going to use some bullshit they don't remember properly from a long talk with a friend in a pub, pass themselves off as a <insert subject here> graduate, and argue vehemently as to why this isn't the answer. It's amazing how many quantum physicists, fighter pilots, brain surgeons and astronauts read these articles.

But for what it's worth, I agree 100% with what you've written, and would vote accordingly if I knew exactly which politician could be cajoled into supporting this line of thinking. Even if I didn't think they'd win, because until people start voting for someone who 'doesn't stand a chance', nothing will ever change.

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Well, yes, but...

Lewis, I don't disagree with any of what you've said here, nor do I imagine does Gordon Brown. But to talk of energy security is to speak of something that is, at best, a medium-long term solution.

Gordon Brown is an economist at heart, as well a politician looking to be able to do something that will produce a measurable improvement on something that effects everybody - today.

In economic terms (and by that I mean the laws of supply and demand), what he's advocating would produce instantaneous changes on prices, not the long term changes that energy security would provide.

Course all of this is a moot point, as the current "ballistic" food prices are most likely caused by two years running of crap harvest yields. If this year is a turning point on that, we should see lower food prices next year anyway.

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Pa Broon needs to put hisown house in order.

Before preaching to us and the rest of the world Pa Broon might consider injecting some sanity into gov,uk's topsy turvy world of target driven green initiatives, private public partnershipset al.

I recently found out that hospital food in his Fife constituency is prepared in Wales and shipped by road the 500 odd miles to Scotland.

Fife has some of the richest most productive farmland in the UK, the idea of shipping food in from Wales is insane. The idea of preparing food hundreds of miles away and shipping it and serving it hours later to the ill and infirm seems just plain cruel.

Gordon cannot even get the basics right in his own constituency let alone his own country -- why should anyone listen to the pompous windbag?

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Anonymous Coward

Britain does NOT have a problem with food

If you can't afford that heavily processed tasteless overpriced plastic wrapped crap that passes for food in the UK, then don't buy it. Buy *real* food and eat that instead.

Food costs us NOTHING, chicken wings are 3 euros a kilo in bulk, a 5 euro box of wings is enough for 2 people for 2-3 meals. Fry them up all in one go, saves on energy and time too. Rice, 30 Euros for 20 kgs of Thai fragrant unbroken rice, enough for 2 people for 100 meals. Big whoop, it use to be 20 euros now it's 30...

We buy a whole chicken, or a whole duck, cut it up freeze it, get 4 meals out of it for 2 people. Frozen salmon, 1kg 7 euros, that's *salmon* for six meals! 3Kg bulk frozen shrimp, 13 euros, that lasts us 2 months, a whole makerel 3 euros...

Real food is soooo freeking cheap!

Stuff being environmental, just for the sake of taste and flavour, learn how to cook simple quick food and you've vastly reduced the 'oil' cost of your food.

Another pet hate of mine, I go into a supermarket and there's a dinky little bottle of oyster sauce from a fake asian brand and it's 3 euros, so much packaging for such a small amount of sauce. I go to the chinese supermarket, a big bottle of oyster sauce from a recognisable asian brand and it's 1.5 euros. 6-8 times better value.

So a lot of food energy cost is just wasted packaging and processing, and it's sooooo dumb! We have a kid, we both work, the meal takes 15 minutes to prepare, it tastes better, is healthier, cheaper, more envirodiddly better (as if that's why we do it!). The next meal takes not time since we cook 2 meals in one (cook enough rice for both meals, cook enough fish or pork, to take as a packed lunch the next day).

I reckon there is so much waste in the existing food system of developed countries, you've been convinced that packaged food offers more variety, tastes better, is quicker, and such, but it doesn't, and isn't.

I can see we need to fix energy, but even there so much waste...

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Coat

Trousers Broon!

Haven't any of you in the editorial team at el Reg read "Oor Wully?" http://qurl.co.uk/lxx3

It's Trousers Broon!

Mines the tartan one! (BTW I'm English!)

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Coat

Trousers Broon! 2

Sorry it's "Oor Wullie" http://qurl.co.uk/lxx3

Tartan coat again!

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Flame

Looking forward to the change of government

When Cameron's PM, says and does pretty much all the same things, and the Daily Heil readers (Hi, "Peter Dawe"!) don't have a "LABOUR!11!one!" PM to vituperate over. Oh wait, you'll carry on ranting impotently at reality just as you always have done. Well, good luck with that, then.

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Black Helicopters

Does talking emit greenhouse gasses?

I was wondering what he was up to, was it all just more hot air? It looks like he wants to force GM crops on us, probably to please some friends of Bush I'd guess. What worries me is how successful he has been getting his ideas through with his scare tactics. Rational discussion has completely gone out the window.

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sodding professional politicians

Thank you so much for the article. I still don't understand why this country has to import energy - didn't we have a thriving coal mining industry once ? Thanks Heseltine, Scargill and Thatcher. I hope you are all happy.

This man Brown really really pisses me off. He has never held down a proper job, run a car, nor scrimped and saved for a house. And now he pontificates about not throwing away food. Well bugger me. Here I was chucking away perfectly good food and not thinking about it. That's probably because I forgot because I was busy burning £5 notes. Seriously what planet does he think we live on. Yes we do all throw away food and it probably is too much. Usually its because we are busy trying to hold on to our jobs. We don't shop properly nor plan ahead enough. Yep guilty as charged. However I do grow some of my own food and I try not to waste food but sometimes I miss a bit of chicken thats at the back of the fridge. Get over it. Perhaps if he didn't waste so much of our money on stupid IT projects (ID cards , NHS , CSA etc) which result in our tax money going to American companies and offshore jobs for no measurable benefit for us we'd take him seriously but in the meantime Brown - go away !

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Coat

Oh no

This really gives new meaning to the term "bean counters".

Mine's the one with the nuclear reactor in the pocket. I'll let them have it if they ask nicely when they've run out of other stupid ideas for saving energy.

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Re: Britain does NOT have a problem with food

So your saying that if I go to the bank and change all my money from Pounds Sterling into Euros my food shopping will be cheaper?

I think that's what your trying to say isn't it?

Just one question. How do I get my local supermarket to accept payment in Euro's?

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Villains

I notice that all the Brown stuff is aimed at the consumer and not at his friends at Tesco, et al, who generate mountains of waste by rejecting fruit and veg that fail to meet idiotic cosmetic parameters that have nothing to do with flavour or nutrition. I sometimes get tomatoes from the bins of nearby greenhouses - they are mostly a millimetre or so under or over-sized, or a bit too ripe (i.e. they might taste of something) and, more to the point, may not be sold as food, as it might affect their profits! (This is a condition of purchase imposed by the supermarket.) The bins, which each hold about a ton of fruit, are then sent for local landfill...

Potato growers operate under similar constraints. A farmer who supplies (if he hasn't since been blacklisted) McCains had a container-load rejected because the flesh wasn't white enough for MacDonalds' specification. MacD (and the supermarkets) say that they are simply responding to consumer demand, but when did you last critically inspect the contents of a chip or take a vernier to your tomatoes?

Finally, the larger growers around here are discouraged from selling to small local shops, lest it put a tiny dent in the supermarkets' turnover. Instead, their produce is transported to a central depot miles away (it has already been packed by the grower, at his own expense) and then ferried all the way back.

And what does Brown do? He blames us!

You really couldn't make it up.

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No forward planning

No sh*t Sherlock.

Brown is so blinded by his dogmatic Utopian belief in the universal cure-all ability of market forces that he didn't bother to check that the West was investing enough money in food production research. Turns out that it wasn't. This isn't about temporary market shortages or the growth of China and India, it's about the lack of forward planning by Western governments. And many, many people will die as a result.

The 'that's just the way the economy works' fatalism isn't good enough. We give people like Brown so much power because we expect them to spot these things coming. If he'd spent less time thinking up interesting ways to have Blair killed, perhaps he'd have done something useful with all that economic growth he likes to claim credit for.

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Thoughts...

There's still plenty of hurdles regarding food security--but I agree that some policies need to stop limiting these things.

I mean, that business with not culling badgers before they go nuts on valuable dairy cows? We have a policy here in Florida that says that if a gator gets too comfty with the idea of humans not being a threat, it needs a round into its thick skull. The idea is to *encourage* them not to be stupid and take the "easy food" (ie pet dogs. Especially on the leash.)

I really do have sympathy for those in the UK. Why not use the London Undergound for shipping? You can displace a single car for local deliveries--less fuel and more people walking for a change!

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Black Helicopters

Tremendous Satire by Brown

This story was fed (sorry) to the press between the Luncheon and Dinner at the conference. Lunch was reported to be SIX courses and dinner EIGHT courses.

Apparently when challenged the press officer told channel 4 that that was OK as long as none was wasted! Brown must have really missed Prescott today....ho-hum.

The principle of sending all these politicians, deputies, staff, security, press etc to have a meeting where all of the content must have been discussed/agreed by lesser officials for months - probably with lots of previous travel too - and will have to be ratified later by their parliments and then preaching about Energy and Food efficiency is worthy of Yes Minister or even The-Day-Today.

Waiting for the SpyCam in the Bin...

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Peaked my interest

Peak Oil edges into the mainstream conciousness bit by bit. Well done El Reg! (Seriously) Not far to go now, there may be hope yet. (And perhaps people will stop looking at me strangely!)

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't he a little tubby to be preaching this

Quite a few excess calories there.

And wasn't one of them bulimic, sort of wasteful to spew it back up as well.

Absolutely ridiculous, we are one of the most fertile areas in the world, our problem is the oligopoly of the super markets, and the farmers not selling direct.

And if we are about to hit a famine in the UK well it is Tubby Brown to blame, now what happened in that movie Alive.

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Food/energy

Pre 1920 (If I recall correctly) america produced 3200 calories of food for each calorie of oil.

Now it's 1 to 1.

Less intensive farming has shown that there is no long term loss in production. The tests showing increased yields were short term results from fertilising and after a few years, the same fertilising produced no more food than it produced before fertilising was done.

If we don't need 20% of the food, then reduction in yields will not be a problem, will they?

It will also save farmers a lot of money spent on high-tech agribusiness.

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Stop

Nothing to say - just follow the link

http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/environment/land-manage/setaside.htm

... and marvel at the hypocrisy

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Stop

Just a tip...

When one hears of governments saying that people should do this and people should do that, it really is better to take it with a pinch of salt as the expression goes.

If a government (any government) really wanted to do something well it has the powers and machinery to do something about the something (if you know what I mean).

On the other hand if all the government (any government) does it to make some noise without action I think we can safely conclude it was merely noise for some particular intended effect.

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@Ashley Stevens

As per the other topic where set-aside came up, the EU want to get rid of it, at last:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article4282134.ece

So hopefully the hypocrisy will wane slightly soon.

Steven R

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Quotas, anyone?

Once upon a time we produced enough food for our own use. Then along came the EU quota system and told us we couldn't do that any more, we had to buy it from somewhere else. Now, if the somewhere else had been cheaper, we'd have done that anyway. British agriculture was once probably the most efficient in the world but now it's being totally screwed.

Fortunately my local farmers have shops at their farms, so we can buy local meat, potatoes, fruit and veg and not have to trouble the local Tesco at all unless we're buying cleaning products or other similar things. I get to pay less than supermarket prices, the farmer gets more money than the supermarket would have paid him, so none of the important people lose out.

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Heart

Just a slight gripe...

...at an otherwise cock-on article.

"...keep more food in the fridge. That means bigger fridges..."

That assumption only holds if fridges and freezers are all full at the moment. But how many fridges and freezers are truly full for most of the time? Point being that if we filled our fridges and freezers up a bit then they'd be *more* efficient cos cooling empty airspace uses more energy. But I guess in reality, the unwashed masses are hankering after getting "one-of-them-American-fridges, you-know, the-one's-with-the-ice-maker". They're the new Dyson. Regrettably.

Anyway, "Food Security threat", eh? So basically, we've had/are having a couple of wars and the population hasn't really felt the pinch and is not quite feeling the fear enough. So we need another looming threat. They've been fishing around for a while now. Global warming has been relaunched as climate change. They shot their load on that one though. But now that food prices have apparently gone up by x-amount*, there's an supposed attack of the killer tomatoes on the horizon or summats.

All this bluster is just pish. And for the most part, it just gets regurgitated by the meeja. Especially on what passes for TV news at the mo. Nice to see some actual analysis from El Reg.

Keep on biting the hand that feeds...

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Trousers Brown?

Surely every time he thinks of the next election it must be Brown Trousers time.

BTW he is not an economist at heart, he is a modern, Scotish, political historian.

Read the idiot's PhD.

I thought that the government restricted the production of things like potatoes and milk. Also don't they prevent growers from selling food that is the wrong size or wrong shape? Isn't it the government that runs, funds or owns laboratories that spread diseases to livestock. I'm sure I read somewhere that it is the government that taxes fuel and energy as many times as possible to drive production and distributions costs up.

Your government does all this for you, and all you can do is complain when they tell you not to waste what little food they allow to be produced and sold.

I'm glad I left.

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I agree - hipocricy, your name is Brown

At present the land in the new EU arrivals is utilised at under 30%. The agriculture there is virtually bankrupt. You can drive for miles and miles through abandoned orchards and empty fields.

Bringing it out of disrepair and running it at full throttle should be more than enough to deliver food for the whole EU with a lot to spare. The only reason it is not doing it is that EU at present is an organisation whose primary aim is to provide French farmers with a nice and easy life at a high living standard. This however is temporary as there is no food shortage just yet.

As long as EU exists and Britain is part of the EU there is no such thing as a food security problem. There of course is a "French Farmer thinks that rest of EU is obligied to feed them" problem, but it will end up being solved in a jiffie if we no longer have enough food to eat.

As far as Africa they will be able to feed themselves with ease as well if they stop using the aid (direct or indirect in the form of St Bob Geldof loan waivers) on murdering each other and building palaces for whoever happens to be filling in for the king job spec on that day.

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How about just reducing the population a bit?

If there's no more food, then one way or another the population is going to decrease. Personally I'd rather that it was just not having children rather than messy wars.

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Does anyone know

Does anyone know where I can buy a copy of the Gordon Brown Diet Plan?

Mines the strides with the ration book in the back pocket.

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Paris Hilton

Problem solved

"By using 60 per cent of food thrown away by households, enough energy could be generated to provide power for all the homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh."

Given that Scotland is now the world leader in obesity this problem can be solved quite easily: put the Jocks on a diet and the rest of the UK will be able to eat. That is, of course, assuming the rest of want to live on deep-fried Mars bars and Irn-Bru.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/TrendObesity

I was going to use the heart icon but Paris knows what Glasgow doesn't about staying slim.

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Paris Hilton

allotments

I often look at what people buy when I go to the supermarket. Usually, its pre-cooked meals, sweets, crisps and other crap. Instead of buying veggies and meat and making a meal, they economise by buying cheaper pre-cooked crap, which is worse for them, and heat this up. Its cheaper and better for them to actually cook a good meal where the ingredients can still be bought for a reasonable price especially when one buys the 2for1 offers.

The other option is to use the garden for what it was intended for. A vegterible patch! Veg is easy to grow and almost free. You can use the bathwater to water it. Run a hosepipe up to the bath, and stand with it next to the veggie plot. Then suck on the tube until you hear the gurggeling noise (or get a mouthful of water) and then water the veggie plot.

Paris' patch watering? (^pat^snat)

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I will look at reducing food wastage....

.... when Broon and his pitiful crew stop wasting oxygen.

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Paris Hilton

Chimney goat

"By using 60 per cent of food thrown away by households, enough energy could be generated to provide power for all the homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh"

But I don't want to provide power for the homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh. They can generate their own power by burning deep-fried Mars bars, which are popular in Scotland. They have enough food as it is. This is just another plot by Gordon Brown to divert the natural resources of England to his fellow countrymen.

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@Dave

The UK hasn't produced enough food to feed itself since the Industrial Revolution really took flight. Before the WW II UK production was only about 35% of the country's requirements and agriculture was in real trouble - one of the reasons that the U-boat blocade was so very serious. By the end of WW II UK production was enough for about 80% of the country's requirements, and it remained that way for a couple of decades afterwards but has been sliding since. Partly it's changes in tastes (food items that won't grow in the UK, more out-of-season stuff). Partly it's an increase in population and a decline in the agricultural sector. If prices go up, then production in the UK will increase. However, the population density in the UK is high (especially in England). Much of the land that is not heavily populated is not suitable for much more than sheep. Not all the UK is that fertile although it's well watered and there's always fertilsers; if you can get the oil to make them of course...

Then there is the obvious truism in the article - it's energy supplies that guarantee food security in the EU. Certainly the EU is more than capable of feeding itself. But energy is the basis of it all and inevitably, as the continent becomes more dependent on some fairly unpleasant regimes like that in Russia, then life will become more uncertain.

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Re: Peaked my interest

"Peak Oil edges into the mainstream conciousness bit by bit."

Can I invoke Godwin's Law here? Pretty please?

Show me figures that back this up and there's a small chance I'll believe you, until then it's just more eco-scaremongering.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark

>Pre 1920 (If I recall correctly) america produced 3200 calories of

>food for each calorie of oil.

>Now it's 1 to 1.

Maybe but they've got three times the population and the same landmass now haven't they?

Agriculture and living in general wasn't pleasant in 1920, lots of the work we currently use machines for was done by hand on extremely low incomes. The consequences were a short life span and poverty in old age when peoples labour reduced in value. They compensated for that by having lots of children.

>Nomen Publicus

>Once upon a time, this country could feed itself.

Yes, but that was pre 1850, do you want to live like that?

Besides, what food would a self sufficient Britain eat?

Do you want to live on turnips 4 months of the year?

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Stop

Once its mine its mine

Once I have bought my food my contribution to the worlds economy is over and it is mine to do with what I wish. If I choose to throw all of it away that is up to me. No one else - least of all Loser Brown - has any right to tell me what to do with it. This applies to any commodity, that's how the world works. What next, stop wasting that valuable gold on frivolous jewellery? Stop using that precious steel on knives to stab each other with? Stop breathing that valuable oxygen and producing all that nasty CO2?

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Dead Vulture

Population is the real issue

"By 2050 we will need food for a world population that is wealthier and several billion larger... "

Until people stop accepting this statement as an inevitable fact we're screwed. We need to start persuading people to stop breeding so much and until that happens the planet and the human race are destined for disaster.

In the absence of a multi-billion killing world war or epidemic of course.

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The energy-efficient way to make food last longer:

Switch off the central heating -- it causes your potatoes to sprout and you cannae keep tatties in the fridge.

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Anonymous Coward

60KWh a day?

One of the fundamental energy figures from this article is that the average UK houshold uses 60 kwh a day, that's 2.5Kw an hour! At a rate of say 13.5 pence per unit that's almost £3000 per year in electricity.

I fail to to believe this can be correct, our houshold uses less than one tenth of that figure!

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Required Title

"The only way to get the Edinburgh+Glasgow scale of energy savings and carbon benefits hinted at by the Cabinet Office would be to reduce food demand in the UK by 20 per cent" - Surely not?

How about a small nuke in the centre of each of these cities, and perhaps one or two others,

Though this would, of course, have a side benefit of reducing demand for food as well.

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Thank you for today's political editorial...

...and accompanying comments. Although this doubtless adds to the Register site traffic and boosts your advertising revenue, it's not what I come here for.

I feel you are diluting your technical image and the constant flow of partisan articles are damaging your credibility. The ratio of signal to noise here has taken a distinct turn for the worse in the last few months. Hopefully it's only a summer phenomenon.

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Actually it's TROOSERS

..as anyone who's heard the song Donald whaur's yer troosers can testify. Also, I'm very impressed by the use of the word 'crivens' (usually followed by 'jings' or 'help ma boab'), but it usually has two v's - crivvens. Hopefully we can see this for the next article on First Citizen Broon?

As for food shortages, I'll believe it when the 21st century equivalent of the U-boat menace appears, probably a plague of mutant whales exposed to French nuclear tests that develop a taste for human blood, sent by Gaia as a punishment for our sins. But then our leaders might think they have a real excuse for rationing and ID cards, so that's not so good.

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Black Helicopters

RE: How about just reducing the population a bit?

I like your thinking but we all know governments won't make any money out of people not popping out juniors. Now a war on the other hand... That'll reduce population AND make the weapons manufacturers a lot of dough (who all happen to be in the back pockets of the politicians). Everybody (who survives) wins!

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Happy

@ Fred

"I often look at what people buy when I go to the supermarket."

I do this too. It depresses me just how many have the Daily Wail in their basket...

All the comments about "real food" - yep. We (ok, the gf does everything apart from the digging and heavy lifting...) grow a lot of veg, and we (ok, yes, she does it...) cook "proper" food, which doesn't involve processed tasteless yuk full of more yuk, where the label reads like a laboratory inventory. Healthier, tastes better. Which means I never leave any, so nothing gets wasted. Being green is nice for bonus points, but the taste / health side is the prime motivator. (NOTE: stuff that's labelled "ORGANIC!!111!!!" is often no better than the stuff that isn't, aside from for the shop profits)

So Gordon would be proud of me. Which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Boffin

Intreresting points

It's just a shame the usual Gordon Brown Marmite Effect (GBME) has dominated the comments again.....I'm personally nuetral to Gordon though hate that "yeast extract"y stuff ...urrrgh! Maybe we should live on fungus like that though, nutricious, easy and cost effective to grow.....unpalitable to many, thus possibly halving obesity problems....it has vitamins too, anything which tastes that bad must, surely? There, problem solved, "let them eat generic gungy-fungi spreadables!" says Gordon! he should give me a job i think ;)

But to be serious, the amount of food the average Brit wastes is frightening, just go to a restaurant and see half full plates left because eyes tend to oft be bigger than bellies or people want to be seen to be able to afford large amounts etc.....me and the lady wife waste very very little as we do a lot of home cooking (I work a 40 hour+ week and cycle 20+ miles a day too so no excuses) and use up any left over veggies and meat we have around....buy what you need and not feed the greed, it's easy really.....

the waste issue is a serious one and one for which we are all responsible, can't blame the incumbrant government for that one chaps...

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