John Gossop, author of Famine in the West and www.peakfood.co.uk attended LAMMA recently as the guest of Nationwide Diamond Concrete. During the first day of the show he spoke to many farmers about peakfood and the future threats to food production. Copies of his book were sold at a special show price of £5.99 .
Peak Food author John Gossop this week had this article printed on pages 28 and 29 of the Farmers Weekly under the topic of the week section. Dated 8th January 2010, the article was entitled ‘Agriculture has a key role in taking heat out of global warming debate’. The issues raised were then then debated on the Farmers Weekly Forum.
The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time slow the depletion of finite oil and gas reserves has massive implications for the future of farming, which has become nothing more than a system of converting cheap, plentiful calories into a much smaller amount of expensive food calories. As oil and gas supplies are finite, and their production is expected to peak soon and then decline, our present farming system must be regarded as temporary.
As the world moves to collecting and using more of the abundant solar energy that reaches us every day, the most important method will be to use plants to collect solar energy to synthesise simple carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water – in other words agriculture. But to feed the nine billion people predicted by 2050 with fewer fossil inputs, we will need to grow more of our input energy, fix more of our nitrogen and recycle more nutrients. It will be a massive challenge, but agriculture will surely become the most important industry in the world.
Following headlines in the national news about Sir Paul McCartney’s call for everyone to eat let meat, John Gossop, author of Peak Food, spoke on Andy Comfort’s Morning Show on Radio Humberside. John answered questions alongside Annette Pinner, Chief Executive of the Vegitarian Society.
Click below to listen to the interview. It is in two parts and not all is included due to download limitations.
Today the Yorkshire Post printed the article below about Peak Food author, John Gossop.
But he considers global warming and farming’s reliance on non-renewable energy to be the greatest problems yet, and has written a book and several articles to illustrate how severe their combined impact may be.
Farmers and academics have turned to Mr Gossop’s book Famine in the West and Peakfood website for his views on how the industry will look in the future.
Now his theories are likely to reach an even wider audience after he was nominated for the Climate Change category in the inaugural Yorkshire Post Environment Awards.
The award category recognises those who show innovative, imaginative and strategic thinking in tackling or adapting to climate change.
Mr Gossop, of Swinefleet, near Goole, said: “With climate change, one of the worries is it is going to make production less reliable.
“The other thing is farming itself and the food production system is dependent on the fuels that are causing the greenhouse gas problem. We are going to have to come up with a better way of using solar energy.”
Mr Gossop believes the industry could help protect the environment by embracing changes to the conventional system of farming.
Current farming practices for these crops involve using a combine harvester to separate the seed from the stem in the field.
The seed is dried using fossil energy so that it can be stored safely in bulk, while the straw is either chopped and incorporated into the soil or baled and transported for animal bedding.
Mr Gossop said: “The present system has revolved around cheap fossil fuels but, some time in the future, if fuel becomes more expensive and scarce then food itself will become more expensive and scarce.
“We need to have a farming system that makes use of the whole crop in a sustainable way. We are so wasteful in everything that we do. If we are going to continue to support a world population using so much fossil fuels, the system must change.
“I would take the crop to a biorefinery or a processing plant which extracts all the energy from the food.
“There is as much energy in the straw as there is in the seed; by collecting the straw as well and possibly turning that into cellulosic ethanol, we would be producing enough energy to ensure the farming is self-sufficient.
“In the past we have not had to worry that we are wasting so much energy, but the system that we are proposing is about trying to get around that.
“We want to fuel farming from its own resources – as it always was.”
For more information about the Yorkshire Post Environment Awards see www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/environmentawards