Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Defra Qs tomorrow

I've got two pops at Defra questions tomorrow.

First of all I'm up at Question 4, asking about the rise in global food prices. My supplementary is going to be about the rise in meat and dairy consumption as developing countries become more prosperous and switch to Western diets (as is happening in India and China). Most people - OK, slight exaggeration, quite a lot of people - are now familiar with the 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef argument, but it was frustrating at DFID questions today when the same topic came up, to hear everyone talk about biofuels (which I accept is an issue, but it's not the only one). I will be asking Hillary Benn if he agrees with me that adopting ever more industrialised and intensive farming methods (to squeeze more meat or milk out of an animal, or more animals into an acre) is not the answer.

My second chance comes up in Topical Questions, a recent innovation which means that you still have to submit your name to a ballot but don't have to say in advance what you want to ask. I'm at question 9, and if we get to it I'll be asking about a ban on the import of seal products. The UK favours an EU-wide ban, but I want confirmation that it would be an unconditional ban. There is some concern that our EU partners could push for a compromise which only bans products from seals which have been 'inhumanely' culled, and we'd then have endless debate about whether clubbing is humane. (Obviously it isn't, but that won't stop them trying).

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