PAN UK, and over 80 other environmental, health and consumer organisations, has written to David Davies and Theresa May to stress the important implications of Brexit on food and farming. With many of the UK’s food and farming policies and subsidies being defined at EU level, the UK government now has an opportunity to reshape these to ensure that taxpayers money is spent for public good.
The organisations, representing the health and long-term interests of millions of British citizens, called on government to adopt common-sense food, farming and fishing policies that are good for jobs, health and the environment, when they plan for the UK’s exit from the European Union. The letter, argues that good food, farming and fishing policies must be central to any post EU Referendum strategy for the UK.
We point out that better food, farming and trade policies can help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming and food industries by 80% by 2050, and promote healthier diets to combat heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and obesity, saving the NHS, and ultimately taxpayers millions. Such policies can also support a vibrant and diverse economy, supporting good jobs and working conditions, in the UK and overseas. Further, the UK could prioritise ethical and sustainable production methods, improved animal welfare, more farmland and marine wildlife, a healthy future for bees and other pollinators, as well as enhancing the beauty of the countryside and protecting the environment, whilst also providing a safe and traceable food supply.
Keith Tyrell, Director of Pesticide Action Network UK, said “This is an important opportunity to ‘take control back’ from agrochemical companies that have been dictating our farming industry for years through promoting a dependence on hazardous pesticides. Now is the time to create strong policy in a post-brexit Britain to support our farmers to move towards healthy, profitable and sustainable non-chemical dependent agriculture”
Kath Dalmeny, head of Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organisations, who coordinated the letter, said: “The British public has given no mandate for a reduction in food and farming standards, a weakening of protection for nature, nor a reversal of the UK’s commitment to lifting millions of the poorest people in the world out of poverty through trade. We are seriously concerned that such vital considerations may be over-run by a drive for new trade deals at any cost.”
The signatory organisations also ask David Davis MP - the Minister currently overseeing a new Unit advising the Government and PM on the post EU Referendum strategy - to ensure that the advice the new unit provides to government is drawn up in consultation with people with science, health and sustainability expertise in relation to food, farming and fishing, alongside economic concerns. Further, the signatory organisations urge that food, farming and fishing make up one of the Options Papers being developed by the unit, to advise the PM and government.