The food industry is facing one of its biggest threats in years. It's not rising commodity prices. Or plastic bags. Brace yourselves... we're running out of honey bees.
Beekeepers have warned disease could wipe out most of the UK's honey bees in 10 years unless research is done to find treatments. But Defra has turned down a request to put £8m towards finding a solution.
Investing £8m so that Mrs Bogof can continue to eat honey on toast and stick two fingers up to Whitehall's Nutrient Profiling Model, which categorises honey with alcopops and arsenic, seemed money well spent. But there's a better reason why we should put bees on the NHS. They contribute £165m a year to the economy through pollination of fruit trees, field beans and other crops.
Defra looks especially mean since pollination is "free", according to Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeeping Association. "Over five years that raises £800m," he says. "We are asking for £8m to save our bees. That's 1% of the money our bees generate." I suggest Lovett and co hold the bees to ransom and charge a daily fee for pollination. Defra will then back down, surely. Either that or it will have to ship in bees from Poland to do the job more cheaply.