Crunch time for food and production standards

Scottish MPs are being urged not to compromise on food production standards and scrutiny of future trade deals or threaten the security of Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Scottish MPs are being urged not to compromise on food production standards and scrutiny of future trade deals or threaten the security of Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Leading farming, health, environmental and social justice organisations have called on Parliamentarians to support amendments to the UK Government’s controversial Agriculture Bill when voting on Monday.

The amendments would put the UK’s world-leading food and production standards on the face of the Bill, ensuring they are upheld in the future.

The UK Government’s refusal to commit to maintaining current standards has prompted fears that it could compromise on food safety in a bid to secure a post-EU trade agreement.

In a letter to all Scottish MPs: workers’ and farmers’ unions, leading academics, charities and local interest groups have urged Parliamentarians to use their votes to support domestic standards of food production and stronger scrutiny of future trade agreements.

The letter warns that failure to support such protections will weaken the long-term security of Scotland’s farmers and food and drink industry, as the door could be opened to imports produced to a lower standard of what is legally required of food producers in the UK – potentially undermining the quality and safety of the food we eat.

A new survey by consumer organisation Which? shows that 96% of people living in Scotland believe it is important that existing standards are maintained. The survey also shows 84% of Scots are concerned that the UK Government has not ruled out lifting bans on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.

Our research shows food standards are a dealbreaker for consumers in trade deals – and many people are concerned by the government’s failure to guarantee that the ban on products like chlorine-washed and hormone-treated beef will stay in place. Consumers have signalled that iron-clad legislation is needed to ensure two decades of progress on food standards is not sacrificed to secure a trade deal – and they now expect their MPs to make it happen.Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Protection and Food Policy at Which?

Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland said

Andrew McCornick

Scottish agriculture prides itself on provenance and quality and herein lies the opportunity of new trade agreements. It is vital that future trade deals do not curtail our ability to grow our reputation as a nation of quality food and drink by undercutting domestic production with imports produced to standards illegal or unacceptable here.

The debate around future trade agreements and standards of production is one which has mobilised the NFU Scotland membership and more than a million UK consumers have signed up to back UK standards in recent months.

Through my participation on the Department for International Trade’s Trade and Agriculture Commission, I will advocate at every turn to ensure that Scottish and UK standards of production are considered in the negotiation of new and other trade agreements. That is what the public wish to see.

We strongly urge MPs to support these vital improvements to the Bill as its reaches its final stages.

Mary Brennan, Chair of the Scottish Food Coalition, said

The current UK administration had previously insisted that it would not compromise on food safety standards.

Fears over chlorinated chicken, hormone injected beef and other highly controversial food imports emphasise the need for these legal guarantees.

The Scottish Food Coalition wholeheartedly supports the amendments on food standards proposed by the House of Lords.

An overwhelming majority of people in Scotland support these protections. It is incumbent on elected representatives to listen.

Every citizen in Scotland relies upon our food system; it must never be a bargaining chip. MPs should support these amendments, support Scotland’s farmers and protect the Scottish public from cheap and unsafe imports that will harm our people and our environment.

MPs are due to vote on the amendments on Monday.

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