#TNOfood on 1st March: group one notes

This was a free-flowing debate and points are paraphrased rather than quotations:

Chris Brewster – we should consider the fundamental underpinning, and that’s the reliance on petrol.

Ruth Reed – is the key about whether we have economic mass-transportation.

David Pink – it’s a dichotomy—economies of scale—small can do things (like crops localised for local conditions) and big can do things. Assumptions that local is more sustainable isn’t necessarily true.

Laura Green — in abattoirs there’s a snobbery that ‘small is beautiful’ but conditions are better in the large EU certified ones. You could have a very large set up in Birmingham.

Robert Berry — the calories consumed are much greater than the local area’s capacity to supply.

David Pink – we have food waste because it’s historically cheaper as part of people’s income.

Chris Brewster – there are political choices that society has made that effects which foods are high value.

David Pink – in 40 years there will be DNA sequencing and we will understand what the idiotype — what is the type of crop we want, so what genes to we need. There used to be very localised crops, suited to particular areas, and we may get that again.

Chris Brewster – one of the reasons for large-scale agriculture is the cost of information, of managing complex systems.

Lynsey Melville — we’re moving away from first generation bio-resources. By 2050 there will be new types of crops that don’t require the same amount of resources. We need to understand our waste — ecosystems have inputs and outputs and we have to look at how they work. There will be waste products that we can consider resources.

Laura Green – can we have self-sustainability on a country basis and individual freedom?

Chris Brewster – we produce double the amount of calories in the world as we need to feed everyone—distribution and waste are problem.

David Pink – Birmingham still has food production areas about it, so it’s in a relatively good position. However the multinationals don’t have the flexibility to go down to that model.

Ruth Reed – We can adapt our lifestyles, but the more interesting aspect is that transportation is going to be very important.

Lynsey Melville — It make sense to bolt on anaerobic digesters to big supermarkets to deal with the waste they produce.

David Pink – That’s integration, if you leave it to the open market who will drive that integration?

Ruth Reed – Architects are interested in localism to drive that—especially in local power generation. For cities the problem is that it’s difficult to identify neighbourhoods-if there was funding they may well form more easily. Motivated communities can achieve things.

Chris Brewster – Personal carbon credits would make complete sense, and is technically possible, but is there the political will to make it happen?

Ruth Reed – with multinationals are politicians in control of that?

Laura Green – if you have a supermarket without packaging there are food safety issues. Staff aren’t interested and there needs to be a solution.

David Pink – Supermarkets would be driven to create solutions.

Robert Berry — Will we need a crisis to affect change?


Here are what the on-tablecloth notes looked like at the end of the session:


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