Protect our food standards

A secretive US-UK trade deal threatens our NHS and healthcare. We can plainly see this Government to be keen on privatisation of our health services and health data. You need only look at their Covid-19 response which has been about ploughing our money into private companies (Serco, Deloitte, Lighthouse Labs) rather than building public capacity. A US trade deal opens the door to more of that trend, writes Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for Europe.

In fact, a US-UK trade deal was planned for before the US election to pressure UK-EU negotiations – but it has stalled. Liz Truss has now set a deadline of mid-2021. What happened? 

The main block to a deal has been the agricultural issue. The UK public do not want to give up our high British-European food standards. Poll after poll shows we do not want chlorinated chicken, hormone-injected beef, ractopamine, over-use of antibiotics in farming, or low animal welfare standards. THAT’S the main block – and public health expertscelebrities (eg Jamie Oliver)animal welfare charities, and food & farming organisations have all been pressuring the government.

The Battle over the Agriculture Bill

In May, Tory rebels tried to add an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to protect British food from being undercut by imports. The government rejected it. Then in September, the Lords added two amendments to protect British foods from imports that didn’t match UK standards. On Monday (12 October), the Agriculture Bill returns to the Commons for their votes on those amendments. Dominic Cummings has already given instructions for Government to defeat it without compromise. But there is a new rebellion brewing.

Our sister campaign, Save British Farming has been running “rural revolt” tractor demonstrations around the country, including South Swindon and Stokesley today. On Monday, there will be a tractor demonstration in Parliament too. This is *exactly* what is getting under the Government’s skin. If there is one thing that can pull this Government away from a dodgy US-UK trade deal, it is the fear of a huge rural backlash. And if Parliament blocks the import of low-quality food, then that basically ends this Government’s hope of a rushed secretive trade deal with the US.

What can you do? 

Please urgently 1) chip in to support the demo on Monday and 2) write to your MP to tell them to uphold British food standards. MPs have received tens of thousands of emails on this issue. Let’s build it to a crescendo over the weekend.

Alternatively, you can always donate to our parent campaign, Scientists for EU.

This is a crux moment. The very best way to prevent a rushed US trade deal where our health, health data and rights are up for sale behind closed doors… is to ensure this dodgy deal never gets past the agriculture issue. So please, support this initiative, write to your MP and keep going. We will get our country back.

With many thanks and best wishes,

Mike Galsworthy

Photo of protest in Northallerton, Yorkshire by Jonathan Gawthorpe, Yorkshire Post