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Sustain Brexit Sustain Brexit newsletter

News update, 5 September 2017

Get set for a roller-coaster of a parliamentary season – arguably the most important since the end of WWII for the UK’s food, farming, fishing and trade policies. The next big parliamentary milestone – the Repeal Bill (the EU (Withdrawal) Bill) has its second reading on Thursday 7th September. Read Sustain’s summary and call to action here, which also contains links to a range of specialist blogs and briefings about the Repeal Bill from Sustain members and colleagues, on issues such as farm antibiotics; baby food standards; additives in children’s food; protected food names; animal welfare; chemicals; pesticides; environmental protection; and human rights, including workers' rights. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, some have already generated useful media coverage.

And last week, a new third-sector alliance was launched, with Sustain as a founding member, coordinating responses to the Repeal Bill, and run by the brilliant Unlock Democracy. Please do consider signing your organisation up as a supporter, see:

Yet, who knows how this will play out? Even as we go to press, Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit Keir Starmer is set to lodge a formal objection to the second reading of the Repeal Bill for failing to do what it says on the tin – namely to restore sovereign power to the UK’s Houses of Parliament. And if the Bill gets to committee stage, hundreds of amendments will no doubt be tabled – we hope Sustain’s recommendations for the Repeal Bill among them. We have meetings with MPs from several parties, and policy teams, over the coming weeks.

As usual, keep on sharing your news, expertise, insights and contacts to inform this important work on behalf of the Sustain alliance.

We have already come a long way together over the past 14 months. Now is the time to turn up the pressure. People’s voices and concerns must be heard. Our message is that we can achieve a Better Food Britain, but the time to champion this is either now, or never.

Kath Dalmeny and Ben Reynolds
Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming; @UKSustain

Sustain Brexit news

Dear Liam Fox, chlorine-dipped chicken is just the tip of the iceberg
Sustain alliance members have expressed their alarm at Trade Secretary Liam Fox's dismissal of concerns about chlorine-dipped chicken as a "detail" of new trade deals with the US. They have written to Liam Fox and Brexit Secretary David Davis, urging them to uphold high food standards in the UK's new Trade Bill and the EU Withdrawal (Repeal) Bill.

Sustain joins 70 civil society groups coordinating responses to the Repeal Bill
Launching on 31st August 2017, an alliance of over 70 charities, NGOs, and organisations from across civil society (including Sustain), have called on the government to ensure that the Repeal Bill does not result in a power grab by ministers and a sidelining of the devolved nations in the Brexit process.

Sustainable farming at Labour Party Conference
What should Labour fight for in the post Brexit farm policy era? Sustain will be exploring this at an event on 24th September alongside SERA, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and The Land Workers' Alliance. See:. Please note that Sustain is a non party political organisation. Sustain aims to promote its members and campaigns at all the Party conferences. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Specialist blogs

We must protect high standards for baby food
It's not just chlorine-dipped chicken. The quality and safety of baby food are at risk from the Repeal Bill and new international trade deals. We need strong standards and institutions to ensure babies get the nutrition and protection they need, say Dr Helen Crawley of the First Steps Nutrition Trust and Kath Dalmeny of Sustain.

UK government must regulate farm antibiotics via Repeal Bill and new trade deals
Regulation of farm antibiotics, to protect these important medicines for human use, has previously been led by the EU. What must the UK government now do to take leadership on reducing farm antibiotics, in preparation for the UK leaving the EU, asks Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.

Artisan food makers could profit from protected food names - if Defra chooses to champion them
In the UK, food products that carry 'protected food names' are on average sold at almost twice the price of comparable food, with the UK market worth almost £5 billion in 2010. But so far, Defra has not stepped up to the challenge of championing protected food names in EU negotiations and the Repeal Bill, argues Gerry Danby of Artisan Food Law and Chris Young of the Real Bread Campaign.

We must uphold high standards for regulation of food additives
Following campaigning by parents and health professionals, the UK has made progress on removing potentially harmful additives from children's food. Now that the UK is leaving the EU and new trade deals are on the cards, we need to ensure these helpful policies and standards continue to be supported in the UK, says Annie Seeley of Action on Additives.

More Repeal Bill briefings on key themes:

  • Animal welfare: The legal principle that animals are sentient beings must be upheld. Currently, the Repeal Bill fails to uphold the requirement that the UK government must “give full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” when making policy, says Compassion in World Farming.
  • Chemicals: The risk to environment and health protection is high, as the UK Government has not committed to the UK staying within highly sophisticated and world-leading EU systems for regulating risky chemicals, says ChemTrust.
  • Pesticides: Rules must be upheld in the Repeal Bill that govern pesticides, from safety levels of residues in food, to the licensing of chemicals allowed to be used on farms and in parks, says Pesticides Action Network UK.
  • Environmental protection: The Repeal Bill must not remove fundamental principles of environmental protection, and must make sure that UK law can be properly implemented and enforced, says the Greener UK alliance of 13 leading environmental organisations.
  • Workers’ rights: The Repeal Bill must safeguard existing EU equality and human rights protections, says UNISON – the public service union.
  • Human rights: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has set out important principles that must be upheld by the Repeal Bill, covering issues such as rights of the child, equal pay, disability rights, holiday pay and measures to address human trafficking. Worker and other human rights are also the subject of a Brexit briefing paper from Global Justice Now.


Brexit: We stand at a cross-roads. When the UK leaves the European Union, will our leaders uphold good standards for our food, farming, fishing and trade deals? And will they agree a sensible deal with the EU? We need to make sure that they do!

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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