HC Deb 07 July 1960 vol 626 cc680-1
18. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that British scientists at Rothamsted have been successful in producing protein suitable for human consumption direct from vegetable matter, and that one manufacturer is at present producing it on a commercial scale; and what steps he is taking through the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation to see that this discovery is used to the full to supplement diets in under-nourished countries.

Mr. Hare

I know of the work done at Rothamsted on the extraction of protein from green leaves, though I have not been informed that protein is being produced in this way on a commercial scale at present. The results of the Rothamsted investigations have been brought to the attention of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the body primarily concerned with direct techniques for dealing with under-nourishment, and the Director-General, Mr. Sen, has himself visited the Leaf Protein Production Unit at Rothamsted.

Sir J. Maitland

Is not this another case in which we ought to try to take the lead, instead of always forwarding the matter to an organisation, and in which we could do something along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke)? Does not my hon. Friend realise that the main cause of undernourishment is protein shortage? If he wants a long-term policy to help these people to produce their own food, should he not remember that it is the shortage of protein which is preventing them from doing so?

Mr. Hare

Yes, but I think that my hon. and gallant Friend will have heard what I said. A great deal of research has been done to see whether protein can be extracted from vegetable material. So far as I know, at the moment there is no way of doing that on a commercial scale.