MAJOR food manufacturers and supermarkets have warned Ministers against post-Brexit trade deals with countries that have poor animal welfare and environmental standards.
Along with food giants Nestle, bosses of Co-op, Iceland and Waitrose, last night said jobs would be put at risk if new trade pacts allow Britain to purchase cheap imports such as hormone-treated beef and chlorinated chicken.
They have urged the Government to adopt recommendations of the Trade and Agriculture Commission which warned earlier this month that Brexit should not cause a “race to the bottom” on food standards. Campaigners, including TV chefs Prue Leith and Jamie Oliver, say much more needs to be done to strengthen protection for UK farmers in post-Brexit deals.
Ministers have been under pressure to consecrate a ban on hormone-treated beef and chlorinated chicken in law. There are also calls to ban crops produced using cancer-causing chemicals.
Food industry chiefs have now waded in with a letter saying: “We strongly support the recommendation of the Trade and Agriculture Commission report that the UK establishes a core set of environmental standards that would apply to both home-produced and imported food.”
The letter, coordinated by the conservation charity WWF, also warns that deals that reduce food standards “undermine both the UK’s environmental regulations and the sustainability of its leading businesses.”
WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: “The food on our plates is destroying our natural world and contributing to climate change, with unsustainable farming practices leading to deforestation, pollution and habitat destruction.”
“We must act now to protect the natural systems we all rely on.”
Waitrose executive director, James Bailey, says: “We must ensure that British farmers and growers are able to compete effectively without being undermined by cheap food produced at an untenable environmental cost.”
Last year, more than a million people signed a National Farmers’ Union petition to protect British food standards as part of a campaign backed by The Mail on Sunday. The letter led to International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, establishing the Trade and Agriculture Commission, led by ex-Tesco boss Tim Smith. The Government has said it will consider its recommendations.
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