A new analysis prepared by EAT-Lancet Commissioner Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, London, and food policy experts from the Universities of Cardiff and Sussex, says the UK food system is entirely unprepared for the potential effects of Brexit.
Though the UK’s strategy for Brexit isn’t clear and it mat take years to fully negotiate the conditions of the country’s retreat from EU common markets, the study found several concrete reasons for concern, that they say need to inform how the Brexit process continues. The overall message of the report is that the UK, and its political system, are entirely unprepared to deal with the intricate process of building a post-EU food system, and that a badly-orchestrated food Brexit can have potentially devastating consequences.
A third of the UK’s food supply currently comes from EU trade partners. The food industry has also adapted over recent years to EU-wide food safety and production standards, which, the report’s authors say, have largely benefited consumers. The sudden removal of the legislative and economic framework underpinning the UK food system could, in the absence of comprehensive food system planning, lead to food supply problems and pose a risk to businesses, public health, workers and farmers.
The authors propose a list of issues for Ministers to address in the ongoing negotiations and national planning, including how to replace labour in food manufacturing, new legislation to replace 4000 EU food laws, subsidies and farm support to replace the Common Agricultural Policy, and a coherent plan for food sourcing and food trade. It also presents a list of recommendations based on the comprehensive analysis, an 88-page report drawing on over 200 sources.
- Publish policy commitment to a low-impact, health-oriented UK food system
- Create a new statutory framework for UK food, which authors term “One Nation Food”
- Commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement in any new food framework
- Establish a new National Commission on Food and Agriculture to provide oversight and review, and to be a source of advice trusted by the British public.