Speaking prior to the G8 summit in Japan this week, the Prime Minister said we had a responsibility to face up to the twin challenges of climate change and global food security – and the solution could start at home.

The average British family throws away a shocking third of the food it buys, wasting 4.1 tonnes, or £420 worth of produce.

Better planning could reduce that amount, says the government, saving money and unnecessary carbon emissions.

Mr Brown’s comments coincide with the release of a Defra report, Food Matters – Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century.

Mr Brown said: “The rise of popular interest in food policy issues, and growing public awareness of the impact of what we choose to eat on everything from animal welfare, to our health and the protection of the environment has seen a massive transformation in Britain’s food culture over the past ten years.

“This cultural change, along with more recent events in global food markets, has brought new and urgent policy challenges to the fore, which governments must act to meet.”

Environmental groups welcomed the Prime Minister’s concerns about wasted food, but argued it should not distract attention from the more pressing issue of biofuels

Friends of the Earth food campaigner Vicki Hird said: “Gordon Brown is right to draw attention to the need to waste less food, but he must also use his sway at the G8 to urge a rethink on global agriculture and food production.

“Current policies on biofuels and trade lie behind the global food crisis. By feeding cars instead of people we are driving deforestation and pushing up food prices.

“Forcing countries into one-size-fits-all trade deals devastates local food markets and puts small farmers out of business.

“We need a new model of food production that doesn’t rely on techno-fixes like GM crops or biofuels – both of which have failed to deliver – and allows local food production to flourish across the globe.”

Sam Bond

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