News Good Food Trade Campaign

Trade select committee the latest to call on the Government to protect food standards in trade

An influential select committee has criticised the Government for not appearing before it to answer questions about the UK-Australia trade deal. It has also joined the list of influential advisers and committees that have called for UK food standards to be protected from trade deals.

Cows in barn. Credit: Yan Krukov | Pexels

Cows in barn. Credit: Yan Krukov | Pexels

The International Trade Select Committee has issued a report on the UK-Australia trade deal, but has been forced to do so without evidence from the Trade Minister, Anne Marie Trevelyan. The Committee has made it clear that it unanimously condemns the Government's approach to scrutiny of trade deals and has called for more time to scrutinise the impact of the deal.

The MPs acknowledge a number of issues that Sustain has been campaigning on, particularly overuse of pesticides and antibiotics in Australian farming and the potential impact on UK food and farming.

The report:

  • sharply criticises the Government for not allowing for parliamentary debate about the deal
  • expresses disappointment that the Government has not acted on advice to make agri food imports meet core UK food production standards
  • references the Government's Trade and Agriculture Commission acknowledgement of the concerns of Sustain, PAN UK and others that pesticide use in Australia could impact negatively on UK farming, and on GM in canola oil
  • welcomes the ban on beef hormones has been maintained but notes that attempts could be made to try and undermine that protection
  • welcomes the commitments on combating antimicrobial resistance but says the Government must say what it will do to address the high level of antibiotic use in Australian production processes
  • expresses concerns about the potential undermining of voluntary food production standards in the UK as result of agri-food liberalisation (eg on antibiotics stewardship)
  • describes the liberalisation of unprocessed food as 'significant' and observes UK producers will experience a 'fallback' if trade flows change and more Australian produce ends up here
  • calls on the Government to improve its impact assessments and to ensure deforestation and land use change are included in their calculations
  • calls on the Government to publish a trade strategy
  • observes that the Government simultaneously argues this deal does not set precedents and that it does

Orla Delargy, head of public affairs at Sustain said:

"The International Trade Committee is the latest to call on the Government to make food imports meet UK standards. We urge the Government to take heed of its own advisers and parliamentarians and introduce a set of core food, animal welfare and environmental standards as soon as it possibly can. It also needs a trade strategy and to extend the period of time parliamentarians have to examine the potential impact of this deal with Australia. This is the first post Brexit deal and will set precedents for future deals. It's important that parliamentarians get a chance to examine it properly and question ministers about the impact."

You can read Sustain's questions for the Government on the Australia trade deal.

You can read the International Trade Select Committee report on the UK-Australia trade deal in full.

Published Wednesday 6 July 2022

Good Food Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

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