Lords vote to ban low-quality food imports

A House of Lords vote to ban sales of imported food that does not meet UK standards sends strong message to MPs ahead of next Ag Bill review.

The House of Lords has voted in a significant majority for an amendment that would ban sales of lower quality food, such as chlorinated chicken from the US, in the event of a trade deal.

As an amendment to the ongoing Agriculture Bill, the result is a significant response by the Lords to public and campaigner pressure.

This summer, over a million people signed a petition, backed by Jamie Oliver, to state they did not want lower quality or welfare food to be sold in the UK in a groundswell of public backing for sustainable food and farming.

Campaigning from food and farming alliance Sustain, as well as farming union NFU, has kept the issue at the top of the agenda in political and lobbying circles.

A trade deal with the US, where standards are notably lower on things like antibiotic use and pesticides, could see food sold in the UK that could not legally be produced by British farmers.

The amendment voted for by the Lords would mean products can only be imported if they met domestic standards for animal health/welfare, protection of the environment, food safety, hygiene and traceability, and plant health. It took place yesterday (22 September) with 307 votes to 212.

Westminster
The Agriculture Bill is currently making its way through parliament.

The Bill now returns to the House of Commons, where the desire to protect standards via restricting trade deals is significantly lower, primarily down to the political sensitivity around trade deals and their links to Brexit. The vote by the Lords can be overturned but such a move is considerably harder with such a majority.

In a separate win for environment and ethics, the Lords also voted to protect rural residents and communities from pesticides, in an amendment that would ban the spraying of pesticides near to buildings for human habitation, recreation, childcare or health services.

The vote is a long-fought for win for the UK Pesticides Campaign, which has been campaigning for the issue for 20 years.

Writing to supporters by email, director Georgina Downs, said: “This is obviously a very significant result for the many millions of rural residents and communities throughout the country who, like myself and my family, have our homes and properties in the locality of pesticide sprayed fields.

“I have always maintained from the outset of my campaign this is definitely one of biggest public health scandals of our time.”

The pesticide amendment voted by the Lords will, like trade standards, be reviewed by MPs once the Agriculture Bill returns to the Commons where it is due for completion by November.

3 Comments

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  1. The House of Lords, that bastion of democracy – who would have thought!
    But correct me if I am wrong, but isnt Danish and Dutch pork still produced in crates thet were banned here years ago?
    And what about fur farming in France which is banned here;but happily imported? You cant have one rule for the EU and another forbthe rest of the World, now that would be hypocritical!

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  2. Please also see amendment 101, the blog only covers part of the story.

    The NFU is a two edged sword (GMOs) and I wonder if Jamie Oliver understands what is going on.

    https://desmog.co.uk/2020/07/15/government-appoints-lobbyists-us-agribusiness-ties-trade-and-agriculture-commission?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/trade-and-agriculture-commission-membership-announced#history

    Last meeting
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac/draft

    5. Response to national food strategy part 1
    The chair expressed thanks to commission members who volunteered to prepare a brief response to part 1 of the national food strategy. The chair confirmed the group would aim to provide a letter to Henry Dimbleby in early September.

    Please see Colin Tudge’s critique of The National Food Strategy.

    2. Progress on working groups
    Each of the 3 working group chairs provided an update on activity. Membership was still being finalised, but in the meantime the competitiveness and standards chairs had convened small groups to scope initial priorities. The consumer group chair was preparing to do the same.

    3. Stakeholder engagement strategy
    A proposed stakeholder engagement plan was presented to commission members for feedback. This included a proposed call for evidence, combined with scheduled forum discussions to focus on key topics. The chair proposed that these might include as a priority animal welfare priorities, environmental issues and ethical trade including labour practices and worker rights.

    Does anyone know who is the Chair of the Consumer Group?

    I think more attention needs to be focused on the new Commission. A can of worms.

    Back to 89ZA
    https://votes.parliament.uk/Votes/Lords/Division/2308

    Note the blue.

    89ZA
    https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2020-09-22b.1726.0

    Also The Internal Market Bill: is a can of worms.

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  3. Lots of cans of worms Theresa. A veritable mountain of secrecy surrounds the stitch up between Governments and the Agro Chemical Industries about pesticides, herbicides, and the cocktail of them in peoples’ food. One day we will find out why we are getting so sick.

    Jennyh

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