December 2019

Too much of a bad thing: the use and misuse of UK soil and land to grow sugar

Adults in the UK currently consume twice their daily recommended allowance of sugar, with severe consequences for our health and to the NHS. Spending on the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes alone comes to £8.8 billion a year. Feedback calculates that at the current pace of reduction, which excludes any impact from the relatively recent Sugar Levy, it will take around 422 years for the UK population to reduce their sugar consumption to World Health Organisation recommended levels. Yet we use 115,000 acres of land to grow sugar beet, which is manufactured into refined sugar by one UK company: British Sugar. In the process, in this report we calculate that harvesting sugar beet creates around 489,000 tonnes of soil loss per year. In addition to the sugar in our tea, is it time to rethink the sugar beet in our fields?

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