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Monday, December 5, 2016
Christian conference to explore future of food
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International speakers will call for sustainable food and agriculture at a conference in Derbyshire 16-18 July on the theme ‘Our Daily Bread: Food Security, People and Planet’. Around 400 people will attend the annual conference of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales, a liaison organisation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Vandana Shiva, an award-winning Indian ecologist, will argue that “biodiverse, orqanic farms and localised food systems offer us security in times of climate insecurity, while producing more food, producing better food and creating more livelihoods”. Alastair McIntosh, an Isle of Lewis-raised writer, broadcaster and campaigner, best known for his work on land reform on Eigg and helping to stop the Harris superquarry, will call for a return to ‘virtuous cycles’ and embracing “frugal but fulfilling sufficiency”.

Shay Cullen, an Irish Columban priest based in the Philippines, will report on the fairtrade work of his Preda Foundation in the Philippines, which supplies dried mangoes to British supermarkets, providing livelihoods for smallholders and indigenous peoples. Elizabeth Dowler, a director of the Food Ethics Council and member of the Iona Community, will call for more people in UK to support farmers’ markets, buy ethically-sourced food and reduce food waste.

A food debate on the Saturday evening, chaired by John Vidal, The Guardian’s Environment Editor, will address the subject, ‘Feeding the world: What are the roles for small-scale and industrial food production to achieve food security?’  Debate speakers include: Patrick Mulvany, Chair of the UK Food Group and activist in international civil society lobbies on food; David Howlett from the University of Leeds Africa College who has worked for the British Government’s Department for International Development on food and climate change policies; and Alison Austin, an independent consultant working with businesses – particularly Sainsburys - to put sustainable development issues at the heart of their activities.

Food was chosen as a topic because the global food system upon which we depend is increasingly fragile. One in six people in the world goes hungry and large-scale famine looms again in the Sahel. The conference will explore the food system and exciting new initiatives to help individuals and groups reconnect to sustainable agriculture and food. It will also highlight insights into ‘our daily bread’ offered by faith and worship.

Eco-theologian Sean McDonagh, who has written books on Christianity and environment and on food and patenting of life, will suggest that “adequate food, justice for people and the continued fruitfulness of the earth are interrelated”. Mary Colwell, a freelance consultant on faith and the environment, will say that “biodiversity needs to be protected to safeguard food security”.

20 workshops include the following:

‘GM Crops – How not to Feed the World’, led by Mae-Wan Ho, author of Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare;

‘Why People Go Hungry’, led by Christine Allen, Executive Director of Progressio;

‘Transition Towns and the Future of Food’, led by Tim Gorringe, author of Harvest: Food, Farming and the Churches;

 ‘Is Meat a Moral Matter’ by Deborah Jones, General Secretary of Catholic Concern for Animals;

 ‘Farming or Farmers in Crisis?’ – led by Rev Sarah Brown, Chief Executive of the Farm Crisis Network;

‘Mining or Food’ – Led by Geoff Nettleton of Philippine Indigenous People’s Links and Richard Solly, Coordinator of the London Mining Network.

and ‘Tunnel Vision’ – An Art workshop led by artist Christine Dawson.

‘Witness’ speakers include:

Victor Barry, a farmer whose organic farm in Cornwall uses old farm working practices, including the use of shire horses.

Annmarie Hulley, a catering manager of a Catholic college in Birmingham which is a flagship school of the ‘Food for Life’ programme, involved in sustainable food sourcing.

Ruth Strange, who founded and runs the Soundbites wholefood shop in Derby.

Ton Onyango, who works for CAFOD in East Africa and is responsible for their ‘sustainable livelihoods’ initiatives.

Diana Katerregga, a Ugandan refugee and volunteer with the Jesuit Refugee Service who has experienced destitution and hunger in Uganda and Britain.

Sponsors include: Justice Magazine, Columban Justice and Peace, Society of Jesus, CAFOD, Progressio, Kevin Mayhew Publishers, Mill Hill Missionaries, St.Louis Sisters, JPIC Religious Links,  and Midlands Co-operative.

Conference organised by the NJPN Environment Working Group and the Lancaster Diocese Faith and Justice Commission, on behalf of:  www.justice-and-peace.org.uk   
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Tags: Alison Austin, Annmarie Hulley, Christine Allen, Christine Dawson Victor Barry, David Howlett, Deborah Jones, Diana Katerregga, General Secretary of Catholic Concern for Animals;Rev Sarah Brown, Geoff Nettleton, John Vidal, Mae-Wan Ho, Mary Colwell, Patrick Mulvany, Richard Solly, Ruth Strange, Sainsburys, Sean McDonagh, Tim Gorringe, Ton Onyango


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