‘Fears over highly controversial food imports emphasise the need for legal guarantees’

Scottish MPs are being urged not to compromise on the standards of food imports and scrutiny of future trade deals or threaten the security of Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Leading farming, health, environmental and social justice organisations have called on Parliamentarians to support amendments to the UK government’s controversial Agriculture Bill when voting on Monday.

The amendments would put the UK’s world-leading food and production standards on the face of the Bill, ensuring they are upheld in the future.

In a letter to all Scottish MPs, workers’ and farmers’ unions, leading academics, charities and local interest groups have urged Parliamentarians to use their votes to support domestic standards of food production and stronger scrutiny of future trade agreements.

The letter warns that failure to support such protections will weaken the long-term security of Scotland’s farmers and food and drink industry, as the door could be opened to imports produced to a lower standard of what is legally required of food producers in the UK – potentially undermining the quality and safety of the food we eat.

A new survey by consumer organisation Which? shows that 96% of people living in Scotland believe it is important that existing standards are maintained. The survey also shows 84% of Scots are concerned that the UK government has not ruled out lifting bans on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.

Andrew McCornick, President of National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS), said:

“Scottish agriculture prides itself on provenance and quality and herein lies the opportunity of new trade agreements.

It is vital that future trade deals do not curtail our ability to grow our reputation as a nation of quality food and drink by undercutting domestic production with imports produced to standards illegal or unacceptable here.

“The debate around future trade agreements and standards of production is one which has mobilised the NFUS membership and more than a million UK consumers have signed up to back UK standards in recent months.”

‘The need for these legal guarantees’

Mary Brennan, chair of the Scottish Food Coalition, said:

“The current UK administration had previously insisted that it would not compromise on food safety standards.

Fears over chlorinated chicken, hormone-injected beef and other highly controversial food imports emphasise the need for these legal guarantees.

“The Scottish Food Coalition wholeheartedly supports the amendments on food standards proposed by the House of Lords.

“An overwhelming majority of people in Scotland support these protections. It is incumbent on elected representatives to listen.

“Every citizen in Scotland relies upon our food system; it must never be a bargaining chip. MPs should support these amendments, support Scotland’s farmers and protect the Scottish public from cheap and unsafe imports that will harm our people and our environment,” she concluded.