Over 500k sign petition to protect food standards

Public awareness is growing over the threat to British standards of food and animal welfare after Jamie Oliver backs campaign in video on Instagram.

More than half a million people have signed a petition demanding that the government protect the high standards of animal welfare and food production by British farmers in any post-Brexit trade deals.

It comes amid rumours that the government is poised to U-turn on promises to ban imports of controversial low-quality food, such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef, in order to ensure a trade deal with the US will go ahead.

In the past, former Defra minister Theresa Villiers has said the government “would not allow imports of chlorinated chicken”, while another former Defra minister, Michael Gove, has stated that “under no circumstances” would it be allowed.

But the Independent has reported that Downing Street has signalled that this is back on the table to ensure a deal with the US is achievable.

An amendment to ensure imported food must meet the same standards for welfare and quality as British farmers was voted down in the first hearing of the Agriculture Bill last month, but it is due to return for a second hearing next week (10 June) amid growing public awareness.

A petition by the NFU and backed by Jamie Oliver has exceeded 500,000 signatures after a powerful plea from the celebrity chef on Instagram earlier this week. Other high-profile names, including rugby referee Nigel Owens, and Countryfile presenter Tom Heap, have added their support.

In the petition, it states that: “Our government should ensure that all food eaten in the UK – whether in our homes, schools, hospitals, restaurants or from shops – is produced in a way that matches the high standards of production expected of UK farmers.”

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver’s social media has boosted public awareness of the risk to food standards in the UK. Image Flickr/really short. 

NFU president Minette Batters said she applauded what Oliver had done to raise awareness of the campaign. “We are now at the eleventh hour. Winning this battle in the court of public opinion is where this now lies. I applaud what Jamie Oliver has done, he clearly cares passionately about this cause.

“It’s been really powerful what he’s done on social media and we plan on keeping this momentum going.”

Sustain’s food and farming lead Vicki Hird said: “The UK government needs to tell the US trade negotiators that we simply refuse to accept low standard, low animal welfare produce. UK consumers have made their opposition clear. The US uses five times the amount of antibiotics in farming as we do and they use many times more pesticides than we do.”

The NFU said its petition will be used ahead of the next Ag Bill hearing, as well as general support from the public on the issue of food standards.

A spokesperson for the NFU said the union had seen various reports about the new proposal for a US trade deal but has not yet seen anything concrete from the government.

The petition to show support for food standards can be found here.


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  1. Please do not be taken in by the NFU they have contradictory agendas.

    Support what is good yes, but disagree with the NFU if you feel necessary i.e. the Sturdy Amendment. Consumers must have their say!

    Please consumers take heed of Beyond GM’s plea for help and take the action suggested regarding the Sturdy Amendment.

    There are just a few days left.

    Some NGOs have been weak on pesticide regulation. This has been the situation for several years. Please visit Georgina Downs’ UK Pesticides Campaign website.

    “The NFU said its petition will be used ahead of the next Ag Bill hearing, as well as general support from the public on the issue of food standards.”

    The NFU does not support the public on the issue of ALL food standards. It supports the United States and the biotech’s deregulation mission on GMOs. We all should be asking questions regarding NGO support of the NFU.

    What is going on?

    Why isn’t anyone talking about it? When it’s been obvious what has been happening not just years but for decades?

    The NFU’s Food Standards petition is not strong enough. Please don’t think by signing it that consumers are out of the water. It’s a start, but we won’t be out of the water. Protect your food and environmental choices.

    “How the products of genetic engineering in food and farming should be regulated and labelled is not a decision that should be taken behind closed doors by procedural chicanery in order to avoid full and open debate. It is an issue of concern and consequence to every UK citizen as well as to our farmers and growers and any attempt to change the law should be taken in a considered, open and transparent way.” Beyond GM

    Please contact Pat Thomas if you have any questions. Thank you.


    The Sturdy amendment:
    The letter from MP Julian Sturdy, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, has been backed by further letters from the heads of various GMO research establishments and from the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB). It also has the support of the National Farmers Union (NFU).

    Landworkers’ Alliance:

    “The Landworkers Alliance stands AGAINST this proposed Amendment to the Agriculture Bill – which the NFU is backing. Ministers are seeking to change the EU definition of GMO in the Act to allow new gene editing technologies in to the UK which are banned in the EU.
    MPs and Lords have called for the government to boost the British farming industry by ditching EU rules which block the access to precision breeding tools.”


    Consumers wishing to protect their choices should be supporting limits to biotech NOT the NFU stance on the issue.



    Changing GMO definition would remove vital safeguards
    Plans to amend the Agriculture Bill would hand ministers power to deregulate genome editing
    Comment (28 May 2020)

    Liz O’Neill – liz[at]gmfreeze.org 07811 211 404

    It has come to light that a group of MPs, backed by industry lobby groups, plans to table an amendment to the Agriculture Bill paving the way for ministers to alter the definition of a GMO in UK law. The stated intention of the move is to deregulate the use of genome editing techniques in food and farming. Commenting on the plans, GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said:

    “All forms of genetic engineering are prone to errors and unexpected impacts while even the smallest genetic changes can cause complex and far reaching changes. Regulation is a safeguard, not a ban, and it would be foolhardy to give new techniques with no history of safe use free rein in our food and on our farms.

    The UK’s current definition of a GMO, based on European Directives, is clear and compatible with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Any change would create a barrier to trade with the EU and potentially cause chaos across the UK itself as agriculture is devolved and the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all take a more sceptical policy approach to GMOs than that favoured by Boris Johnson in Westminster.”

    AGRA Watch

    Please take action today:

    “The only reason to rush this amendment is to fudge the science and avoid transparency. It’s sneaky and underhanded and we will be writing to the Secretary of State and to members of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Group to object to this proposal. We urge anyone amongst you who is also concerned to express that concern in a short email to the Secretary of State – the arguments in the article below may be helpful in framing your response.”
    Beyond GM

    1. Thanks for sharing these resources Theresa – there is so much going on out of sight at the moment it really takes sustained group efforts to bring all these issues to light so that we can take action.

  2. I listen every day to the daily news updates and am left bemused that we constantly ignore the “elephant in the room” No one addressed the root problem and causes of our pandemics.
    Humans have generated the following diseases by keeping animals in close confinement which creates the “flu Factories” and the killing houses where yet more bacteria is released.
    Tuberculosis from farming goats now infects 1/3 of humanity. Measles and small pox from cattle, Whooping cough from pigs . Typhoid fever from chickens and turkeys Influenza from ducks. Leprosy distemper from water buffalo. cold virus from horses. HIV from butchering primates in Africa
    causing AIDS. SARS coronavirus 2004 from civet cats. Ebola from humans eating infected animals Spanish Flu in 1918 killed 50 million & again in 2009 killing 6,000. Asian Flu H2N2, Hong Kong flu list is endless. BUT humans are frugivores so to maintain health require 100% plant diet ! Only animal agriculture get massive subsidies not plant growers. The pharmaceutical giants have made more money from what they inject into animals to grow them fast and big and then have to give routine antibiotics and other drugs to tackle all the bacteria. This present pandemic will mutate 90 x faster than any previous one.meaning no vaccine will ever keep up. Please watch Dr. Michael Gregers speech in 2010 “Pandemics; history and prevention” and see http://www.nutritionfacts.org with his updated daily videos he is not paid by anyone he simply tells the truth and explains why humans need to change their diet today. In doing so we eliminate the flu factories and by eliminating animal protein we end heart disease, cancer, dementia, obesity, the list is endless. but time is running out fast. Remember we are in lockdown over a crisis of our own creation that literally need never have existed if it were not for our exploitation of animals and their habitats animal agriculture is the single biggest causes of climate change and of the pandemics. to quote Joaquin Phoenix “We have to act today to dismantle the ecological time bomb and end the inhumane food supply that is also making us very sick “


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