First it’s exit the Corn laws (1846), then it’s Brexit (2016). Now what? – Tim Lang – Food Thinkers

Tim Lang on first it's exit the Corn laws (1846), then it's Brexit (2016). Now what?

Almost certainly the 2016 Referendum vote to leave the EU heralds one of the most important periods of transition for British food and farming since industrialisation. The Brexit vote is on a par with momentous events such as the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 which halted tariff barriers on imported food and, much like Brexit, was the culmination of a decades-long fight. It’s also on a par with World Wars 1 and 2 which exposed Britain’s dangerously low food self-sufficiency and persuaded the state and industry to reintroduce a more home-producing food policy.

The reasons for the Brexit vote are perhaps a matter for sociologists and historians. What matters now is: where next? How do the food power blocs line up? What could stop Food Brexit being a gross disruption or deviation? Or is that inevitable? How could this process aid or hinder the transition to a more sustainable food system? Will politicians be honest with UK consumers about the implications?

This Food Thinkers lecture will outline:

  1. ‘hot’ issues such as food standards, reliance on external labour force, types of food;
  2. the institutional capacities of the UK State, important for the negotiations themselves;
  3. the battle for hearts and minds of consumers in the Brexit narrative; and
  4. the tasks facing British academics and civil society.

About the speaker

Tim Lang has been Professor of Food Policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy since 2002. After a PhD in social psychology at Leeds University, he became a hill farmer in the 1970s which shifted his attention to food policy, where it has been ever since. For over 35 years, he’s engaged in academic and public research and debate about its direction, locally to globally. His abiding interest is how policy addresses the environment, health, social justice, and citizens.He has been a consultant to the World Health Organisation (eg. auditing the Global Top 25 Food Companies on food and health).

He has been a special advisor to four House of Commons Select Committee inquiries (food standards x 2, globalisation and obesity), and a consultant on food security to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). He was a Commissioner on the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission (2006-11), reviewing progress on food sustainability. He was on the Council of Food Policy Advisors to the Dept for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (2008-10), and was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Food Board in 2010.

Tim also joined the FRC for a Food Bites to give us a snapshot snapshot of what the current issues in the food system are and what civil society organisations and academics could be doing to work towards solutions.

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