One million people have signed a petition calling for laws to prevent future trade deals leading to food imports that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
The petition, organised by the NFU south of the border, comes amid ongoing fears post-Brexit trade deals could undermine the UK’s food, animal welfare and environmental standards.
A wide coalition of organisations has warned against allowing imports of food that would be illegal to produce here, with fears farmers and standards could be undermined by products such as chlorine-washed chicken.
Questioned on the issue by a Westminster committee, Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted the government would protect standards in trade deals and said: “Our manifesto commitment is very clear about protecting food standards and animal welfare standards through trade deals and there are well-established mechanisms that would enable us to do that.”
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The fact that more than one million people have signed a petition urging the government to put into law rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here is a clear signal of how passionate the British public feel about this issue. It is now clear that it is simply not credible for the government to continue to just pay lip service to this issue, when there is such public support for action.
“They must now give guarantees to the British people that they have listened to their concerns and will make firm commitments to address them.”
The NFU is calling for an independent trade, food and farming commission to make sure all food imports are held to the some standards expected of British farmers.