ANOTHER COUNTRY bans GM, Pressure on coffee companies, New soy tool, Calculating calories for menus, Fossil fuel divestment.
Northern Ireland says no to GM
Northern Ireland has become the latest country to ban GM crops. Stormont’s environment minister Mark Durkan said he was “unconvinced of the advantages”, a similar stance has been taken in France, Germany and Scotland. This week the Royal Society of Edinburgh criticised the Scottish Government’s anti-GM stance as “presumptive; assuming hostile public opinion”, despite evidence that “suggests the attitudes to GM crops and food are less negative than they have been in the past”. Consumer opinion on GM remains largely unclear, however. The bans follow new rules that allow individual member states to stop farmers using GM organisms, even if they have been approved for EU usage. England’s government remains a keen supporter of the technology.
The milk price crisis spilled further into the foodservice sector this week when Scotland’s environment secretary enjoyed a latte (possibly) at a café in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. “One in three Scots visit a coffee shop at least once a week, spending an average of £80,000 a day. Many will be shocked to learn the milk is often not Scottish, especially at a time when dairy farmers are struggling,” Richard Lochhead said. Lochhead has written to the major high street coffee chains and other major foodservice operators urging them to commit to his Fairer Framework for Farming proposal, which involves clearer sourcing information on menus.
Help with soy
The Consumer Goods Forum has published guidance to help companies better understand the use of soy in their supply chains. The ‘Soy Ladder’, developed in conjunction with KPMG, “supports a company in making its soy usage more sustainable by providing [it] with greater insights into where that soy usage is within the supply chain and which product lines contribute the most to that company’s soy footprint”. A report by WWF last year criticised Sodexo, Compass and Nando’s for their lack of commitment to sourcing sustainable soy and poor understanding of their supply chains.
The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland has launched a free tool to help caterers manage allergen information MenuCal can also be used to calculate calories for the food served. A statement explained: “Using this tool, businesses have the potential to increase their profitability by making smarter choices about the food they serve, tailoring their portion sizes to reduce the food’s energy value or changing the ingredients to give a healthier option.”
Sinking fossil fuels
More than 2,000 individuals and over 430 institutions with assets totalling $2.6 trillion have joined the commitment to divest from fossil fuels. The popular movement, which has gained increasing traction in the US, Britain and across Scandinavian countries, is a very different beast to previous activist campaigns. Firstly, it does not discriminate between businesses – all 200 leading fossil fuel companies by reserves are considered fair game. Secondly, the cause is a common one – to slow down and ultimately end the extraction of fossil fuels by making the process financially and morally unsustainable. As Footprint noted recently, this is just the start: as the fossil fuel divestment movement continues to gain momentum it will surely recalibrate and seek new targets and the food industry is a logical place to start.