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Brown big on food conservation at G8

Gordon Brown and company at the G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: The exclusive club that is the G8 began meeting today in Japan. The group of 8 has a lot on its plate this summit. In no particular order: oil, the dollar, the food crisis. Today, Germany's Chancellor urged the group to include non-G8 members like India and China in the discussion about oil. The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, is talking about food.

Let's bring in our man in London, Stephen Beard. Stephen, what is Brown saying?

Stephen Beard: He is saying that saving food is as important as saving energy. And he's basing this argument on a British government study indicating that Britons alone waste four million tons of food a year at a cost of some $800 per home.

Jagow: But what he is asking people to do?

Beard: He's asking people to be a lot more careful and not to waste food. And one of his targets, incidently, are the big supermarket chains. He's urging them to drop these "Buy two and get one free" promotions, because he says this ends up with consumers buying too much food and then going home and ending up throwing a lot of it away. So he's aiming this call not just at individuals but supermarkets, schools, restaurants and government departments.

Jagow: And Stephen, beyond this food policy, I understand that Brown is also being very critical of the U.S. policy on biofuels at the G8 Summit. What's he saying there?

Beard: Yes, this is the argument, that the American approach to biofuel production -- that is, largely using corn varieties to produce biofuels -- reduces the amount of corn available for food. And -- he's basing this on a British government study -- this is nearly as polluting as gasoline as a fuel once you take into account production and transportation costs. So he's going to be clashing, possibly, with the Americans at the summit, arguing that we should be looking at non-food biofuels, such as wood byproducts, as a better way to go.

Jagow: Should be a good discussion. All right, Stephen Beard in London. Thank you.

Beard: OK, Scott.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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