Feeding Britain: Food Security after Brexit

Feeding Britain: Food Security after Brexit

Tim Lang, Tony Lewis, Terry Marsden & Erik Millstone

This Food Brexit Briefing brings together three interlinked issues that demand policy attention as the clock ticks towards Brexit:

  1. The question of whether the Government is paying enough attention to agri-food in the negotiating process, given its central role in both public wellbeing and the national economy.
  2. The threat a careless Brexit poses to the UK’s short-term food security – and any long-term attempt to develop a genuinely sustainable food strategy for the whole of the UK.
  3. The risk generated to the UK’s status as a potential trading partner of the EU by the Food Standards Agency’s decision to press ahead with major reform of UK food safety regulation, at a time when regulatory stability and clarity have never been more important.

The report was written by FRC’s Professor Tim Lang, with Professor Erik Millstone (Sussex), Tony Lewis (Head of Policy at Chartered Institute for Environmental Health) and Professor Terry Marsden (Cardiff). It takes stock of ‘food Brexit’ and argues that a hard Brexit or no-deal Brexit (and retreat to WTO rules) would imperil the sustainability and security of Britain’s food supply.

The report recommends that the Government should:

  • Maintain a clear and explicit focus on the potential adverse effects of Brexit on food security in the UK, while negotiating the UK’s future trading relationships with the EU and other jurisdictions.
  • Publish Brexit impact studies on the UK’s agricultural and food system for the White Paper and Chequers Statement and any subsequent proposals.
  • Ensure that high food standards remain at the heart of any future trade deals.
  • Provide clarity on its proposed migration policy, taking account of the contributions that non-UK citizens of the EU are making to the quantity and quality of the UK’s food supply and services.
  • Avoid a hard Food Brexit at all costs.The UK must not retreat to a WTO-rules-based regime. The EU would then categorise the UK as a ‘3rd Country’, which could be a recipe for chaos.
  • Create a new Sustainable Food Security Strategy. This would engage with the complexities of the food system and the multiple criteria by which it should be evaluated; and identify clear priorities and pathways for progress.

The report also calls on the Food Standards Agency to:

  • Address the calls for clarification and evidence posed in the paper in respect of its Regulating Our Future (ROF) Where such clarification or evidence is not available, then the Agency should modify or suspend the introduction of its proposals, at least until after Brexit.

About the authors

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Tim Lang

Tim Lang has been Professor of Food Policy at City, University of London, Centre for Food Policy since 2002. He founded the Centre in 1994. After a PhD in social psychology at Leeds University, he became a hill farmer in the 1970s in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire which shifted his attention to food policy, where it has been ever since. For 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 mixed challenge of ensuring that food is good for the environment, health, social justice, and consumers. What is a good food system? How is ours measured and measuring up? He has been Vice-President of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (since 1999).

Erik Millstone talking High Res May2010

Erik Millstone

Erik Millstone is an Emeritus Professor of Science Policy at the University of Sussex.  His first degree was in Physics, followed by three in Philosophy.  Since 1974 he has been researching into the causes, consequences and regulation of technological change in the food and chemical industries. His research focus has extended over food additives, pesticides and veterinary medicines, as well as BSE, GM foods and obesity. Since 1988 he has been analysing in more general terms the role of scientific experts, evidence and advice in public policy-making.

Having conducted comparative studies of food safety policy-making regimes across numerous jurisdictions, he contributed to articulating proposals for the creation of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, and led a study for the European Parliament reviewing the proposal to create the European Food Safety Authority. In the past 12 years his researches have extended into food and agricultural policies in developing countries.  Much of his current research focuses on the implications of Brexit for food security in the UK.

2016 Tony Lewis photo

Tony Lewis

Tony Lewis is a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner, a Fellow of CIEH and is currently Head of Policy of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Prior to joining CIEH, Tony was employed as a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health (specialising in environmental protection and health and safety) at Manchester Polytechnic, Nottingham Trent University and the School of Public Health Medicine at Nottingham University. Tony has also contributed to the Master of Studies programme in Public Health at Homerton School of Health Sciences at Cambridge University and has been a long-standing Associate Lecturer in Health and Safety Law at the University of Surrey.

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Cancer Research UK Senior Nurse, Barbara Moore launching Shine Cardiff 2010. 
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Kyrles View Barn,Warrage Road Raglan.NP15 2LD

Terry Marsden

Professor Terry Marsden researches the interdisciplinary social science and applied policy fields of rural geography, rural sociology, environmental sociology, geography and planning. He has published over 150 international journal articles, book chapters or books. This includes 20 research monographs and edited collections.

Professor Marsden’s body of work ranges from original theoretical work in the field, through to empirical analysis and emerging policy impacts and analysis. It includes wide ranging work on: the socio-economic restructuring of agriculture; theorisations and empirical investigations of rural development; analysis of agri-food chains and networks; and critical commentaries in the emerging fields of environmental sociology and environmental planning. The empirical work has extended from the UK, Europe, Brazil, the Caribbean and now China.

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