Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 14:37 UK

'Dig for Victory' warning to MSPs

Food recycling
MSPs were told that the country throws away too much food

Global food shortages may force Scotland to "Dig for Victory" again in the future, MSPs have been warned.

Tory rural affairs spokesman John Scott predicted that the wartime message may return to encourage people to grow their own vegetables.

He also told a Scottish Parliament debate on food that Europe would have to become self-sufficient.

Mr Scott, who is a farmer, said his party was setting up a task force to examine the issue of food security.

He said: "From 1988 till 2008 we have had, in an almost biblical way, the 20 years of plenty, and now the situation has changed as once again the spectre of food shortages emerges.

Dig for Victory, the slogan which encapsulated our wartime need to maximise food production from our own resources, may again become the order of the day
John Scott
Conservative MSP

Mr Scott said rising oil prices, global warming and the demand for "Western-style" diets in countries like China and India lay behind the problems.

He said: "We must start to look at what we in Scotland can do to help feed a daily more hungry world."

Farmers must be encouraged to grow more food, he added.

"Europe will now not only have to start feeding itself for the first time, but other less favoured parts of the world as well, and Europe, the UK and Scotland are not even self-sufficient in food production terms at the moment."

Mr Scott said that Scots could help by wasting less food.

Food policy

And he added: "Dig for Victory, the slogan which encapsulated our wartime need to maximise food production from our own resources, may again become the order of the day," he added.

Growing their own vegetables in the back garden could again become important among the public.

Labour MSP Karen Gillon said the rush to bio fuels was behind many of the problems.

"Are we really prepared to sit back and say to the world's starving millions - we will burn your food in our cars?

"In the US next year the use of corn for ethanol is forecast to rise to 114 million tonnes - nearly a third of their projected crop."

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles accused the Conservatives of sparking a "banal" debate.

There are warnings that people may have to grow their own vegetables

He said the government had failed to take action to deliver aid to pig farmers affected by foot-and-mouth disease last year.

He said: "Why has the Scottish Government failed to even apply to the EU as the French have done to assist our pig industry as a result of the losses incurred through the foot and mount debacle?

"This failure and lack of action is quite simply a disgrace. While we can all help by doing our bit and buying Scottish produce, the Scottish Government has a role to play here as well."

Environment Minister Mike Russell said the Scottish Government was planning to develop a food policy and stressed that the issue of food security was "firmly on the agenda".

Mr Russell - who told parliament he had planted onions and potatoes in his garden at the weekend - said: "We have to take concrete steps to help those in poorer countries.

"We have to work together. Let's from this chamber send out the message today. Let us put our heads together and work out how to solve this problem at home and abroad."

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