Chef Jamie Oliver joins Mail on Sunday's war on toxic US food
Don’t trade away our children’s future: Chef Jamie Oliver and fitness guru Joe Wicks join Mail on Sunday’s war on toxic US food as Boris Johnson is urged to block sub-standard food from flooding into the UK under post-Brexit trade deals
- Heartfelt open letter written by a host of stars including fitness guru Joe Wicks
- MPs adding pressure to bolster protections against poor quality foreign food
- Vote will soon see if watchdogs given power to enforce high food standards
A powerful alliance of chefs, celebrities and charities today urges Boris Johnson to block sub-standard foods from flooding into the UK under post-Brexit trade deals.
In a heartfelt open letter, stars including Jamie Oliver and fitness guru Joe Wicks call on the Prime Minister not to ‘trade away our children’s futures’ in the negotiations.
The move comes as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss faces growing Parliamentary pressure to bolster protections against poor quality foreign food – and save British farms from being put out of business by cheap imports.
In a crunch Commons debate expected within the next fortnight, MPs will vote on new plans to give watchdogs on the Trade and Agriculture Commission the power to enforce high food standards.
The letter – also backed by BBC Countryfile presenter Anita Rani, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and charities including the RSPB and RSPCA – demands assurances that ‘lower-standard’ meat, such as US-produced chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef, will not be sold in British stores or served in restaurants and canteens after we exit the EU’s standards regime.
And they say that the Covid-19 pandemic has ‘raised the stakes’ because ‘now, more than ever, we need to make sure everyone has access to affordable, good quality and sustainable food to help people be healthier, happier and more resilient’.
Chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall demand assurances that ‘lower-standard’ meat, such as US-produced chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef, will not be sold in British stores or served in restaurants and canteens after we exit the EU’s standards regime
Fitness guru Joe Wicks has also called on the Prime Minister not to ‘trade away our children’s futures’ in the negotiations
The letter sent by an alliance of chefs, celebrities and charities to the Prime Minister
If you are using the app, click here.
The letter sent by an alliance of chefs, celebrities and charities
We’ve known for generations that good food is the backbone of good health. But the pandemic has raised the stakes. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure everyone has access to affordable, good-quality and sustainable food to help people be healthier, happier and more resilient.
The UK is at a crossroads that will affect what we eat for generations to come. The trade deals we’re currently negotiating with countries across the world will determine what ends up on our supermarket shelves and in our shopping baskets. If we don’t get this right, progress made as a result of your Government’s obesity and health strategy could be wiped out.
We all want trade – but let’s not enter a race to the bottom and allow low-quality products to flood the UK. Chlorinated chicken will be just the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking about meat produced with growth hormones and high amounts of antibiotics, crops grown with illegal pesticides that are harmful to bees, and a flood of sugary and ultra-processed products, promoted with massive marketing spends and without clear labelling to tell us what we’re really eating.
We must not lose control of what ends up on the plates of British children. If we get this wrong, the impact on their health will be profound. It will be the most vulnerable in our communities who will suffer the most. Bad trade deals will also have a worrying impact on the environment and on animal welfare. Two things that the British public cares deeply about.
The UK has a fantastic opportunity to set out our stall as Brand Britain, standing for high-quality food that is produced to high animal welfare and sustainability standards. Producing exports that resonate all over the world.
More than one million people have already signed the petition to #SaveOurStandards. In response, the Government has launched a new Trade and Agriculture Commission. But it lacks teeth, will last only six months, and worryingly doesn’t include people who understand child health, environmental issues, or animal welfare.
We want to ensure that environmental, animal welfare and food-safety standards are enshrined in law and upheld in all UK produced and imported products. We want to see a strong Trade and Agriculture Commission that can offer genuine checks and balances, with a broader membership including public health and environmental voices.
And we want to see the Government implement plans to reduce child obesity quickly, including having clear nutrition labels on all products and restrictions on junk-food advertising.
Let us build a healthier Britain. We must not trade away our children’s futures.
The letter – an edited version of which is reproduced right – warns Mr Johnson: ‘If we don’t get this right, progress made as a result of your Government’s obesity and health strategy could be wiped out.
‘Let’s not enter a race to the bottom and allow low quality products to flood the UK. Chlorinated chicken will be just the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking about meat produced with growth hormones and high amounts of antibiotics, crops grown with illegal pesticides that are harmful to bees, and a flood of sugary and ultra-processed products, promoted with massive marketing spends and without clear labelling to tell us what we’re really eating’.
The letter also argues that ‘the British public cares deeply’ about these issues – a point emphasised by a Mail on Sunday poll today which shows an overwhelming majority of voters want our high food standards protected in future trade agreements.
The Deltapoll survey reveals that 68 per cent of people believed the most important priority for Britain was to maintain high standards for food, even if that mean some trade deals were not possible as a result.
Only one in five (21 per cent) thought that compromising on standards was acceptable to get a deal over the line.
This newspaper is today urging readers who back the campaign to send a version of the letter to their local Tory MP, as Opposition MPs are already expected to support moves to protect standards.
But last night, the Government came out fighting by branding the letter ‘totally misleading’ and insisting: ‘Our manifesto commitment could not be clearer – we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.’
The Government was heavily defeated in the Lords last week on its Agriculture Bill, when peers overwhelmingly backed calls for greater powers to block sub-standard food imports and moves to give Parliament the final say on post-Brexit trade deals.
By a majority of 107, peers backed a call from cross-bencher Lord Curry, a retired farmer, for the Trade and Agriculture Commission to be given greater, permanent, powers.
Peers also backed a call by Labour’s Lord Grantchester to keep out foods produced to standards lower than the UK’s. The Government defeats set up the prospect of a fresh Tory rebellion in the Commons next month when MPs debate changes to the Bill.
The issue has also become a flashpoint between Ministers and the National Farmers’ Union.
Last week, NFU president Minette Batters met Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove to urge him to beef up the commission, which is currently scheduled to last just six months and which, critics say, does not include specialists in child health or environmental and animal welfare issues on its panel.
Amid mounting concern over Ms Truss’s ‘toothless’ commission, a Future British Standards Coalition is launched today, including representatives of the Tenant Farmers Association and the RSPCA.
It will be chaired by Kate Dalmeny from food and farming alliance Sustain. She said last night: ‘British people have made it abundantly clear that they expect to keep the high food, environmental and animal welfare standards they currently enjoy.’
So far, more than a million people have signed a petition to save food standards following the launch of The Mail on Sunday’s Save Our Family Farms campaign, with the backing of former Ministers Sir Nicholas Soames and Theresa Villiers.
BBC Countryfile presenter Anita Rani has also thrown her weight behind the campaign
In an article on the facing page, former Environment Secretary Ms Villiers reminds the Prime Minister that the Tory manifesto for the 2019 Election pledged there would be no compromise on the UK’s world-beating food and animal welfare standards after Brexit.
Even George Eustice, the current Environment Secretary, has described animal welfare laws in the US as ‘woefully deficient’, with up to a million chickens crammed together in vast hanger-like facilities on some farms. Slaughtered chickens are sometimes washed in chlorine due to the number of bugs on American poultry farms, while US cattle farmers use steroid hormones to speed growth – a practice banned by the EU since 1989. One drug routinely used, 17-beta oestradiol, is a known cause of cancer in humans.
Jamie Oliver has previously called on Mr Johnson to be ‘a guardian to the land and its prosperity,’ rather than ‘someone who opened Pandora’s box to the quick erosion of the food and farming industries’.
Last night, senior Tory MP Neil Parish, who has already led one Commons Tory rebellion over post-Brexit food standards, urged the Government to compromise.
Mr Parish, chairman of the Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee, said: ‘The Lords picked up where we left off in the Commons, raising fundamental concerns about how food standards are going to be protected in the future. The Government still has an opportunity to act proactively on this.’
Ms Truss has repeatedly insisted that the Government will not abandon the UK’s high food standards and that there is no need to increase the powers of the temporary commission.
Last night, a Government spokesperson said: ‘We remain focused on getting trade deals that work in the best interests of our farmers and consumers. British farming sits at the heart of our trade policy, and the Trade and Agriculture Commission will help ensure that the UK’s high-quality agriculture sector remains among the most competitive and innovative at the world.’
As things stand the Government is telling Tory MPs not to back the amendments to the Agriculture Bill. Here is a list of Conservative MPs you can lobby with our letter.
Back our farmers Boris: Ex-Environment Secretary THERESA VILLIERS says the world WILL buy British if the PM makes good on his manifesto pledge
Of all the pledges that led to Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory last year, ‘Get Brexit Done’ is surely the most famous. But every Conservative MP elected then stood on another important promise.
We vowed that as we regained our independent, free-trading status, we would maintain the UK’s reputation for world-class food and animal welfare standards
The manifesto said: ‘In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.’
That means we should not allow food not produced to our high quality levels – such as hormone-fed beef or chlorinated chicken – into the UK as the price for securing lucrative trade deals.
I would like us to make good on that manifesto pledge in the following way.
Ex-environment secretary Theresa Villiers says the world will buy British if the PM makes good on his manifesto pledge
Firstly, we should establish a powerful, independent body of food, farming, welfare and environmental experts to advise Ministers on each and every trade deal.
And secondly, we must ensure that Parliament has the final say on overseeing those deals.
The International Trade Secretary insists that the Government, by establishing a new temporary Trade and Agriculture Commission, has already done enough.
While this new advisory commission is welcome, it is not sufficient. We cannot have a food and trade deal watchdog that, on current plans, expires in less than six months’ time and before most future trade deals are finalised.
It needs to be set up on a statutory, permanent basis, report to Parliament and have a wider, fully representative panel of members. Parliament must have a vital role in devising future trade deals – with a vote setting out general principles for draft trade deal negotiations and a simple ‘Yes/No’ vote when they are concluded. That would fulfil the key Brexit message of ‘take back control’ and mirror how the US Congress oversees trade deals in Washington.
Of course, it is the Government that negotiates trade agreements but it should be in partnership with MPs.
I appeal to Ministers to accept these proposals and heed The Mail on Sunday’s own Save Our Family Farms campaign.
I would also urge them to listen to top chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who have joined up with charities and celebrities to lobby against sub-standard food being allowed into our country through an open letter to the Prime Minister, published in this newspaper today, left.
MPs will next month have another chance to take a stand when we vote on the final stages of the Agriculture Bill and when we can back sensible amendments passed in the House of Lords.
But it would be far better if the Government and backbenchers came together now to back a sensible compromise – a tougher version of the Commission already set up combined with a stronger role for Parliament.
That would confirm the Prime Minister’s steadfast commitment to high standards of food and animal welfare.
It would also help secure the goal set out so clearly in our manifesto that ‘we want people, both at home and abroad, to be lining up to buy British’.
Source: Read Full Article