Government 'sleepwalking' into post-Brexit future of insecure food supply, report says

Postado Julho 17, 2017

A new report released today describes how Brexit will pose "real risks" to the cost and availability of the UK's food supplies, accusing the Government of "sleepwalking" into insecurity.

The study, by leading food policy specialists Professor Erik Millstone of the University of Sussex, Professor Tim Lang of London's City University and Professor Terry Marsden of Cardiff University, warned the United Kingdom was totally unprepared for "the most complex ever change" to its food supply system. No-one has warned the public that a Food Brexit carries real risks of disruption to sources, prices and quality'.

A new paper has warned that the United Kingdom is unprepared for the most complex ever change to its food system as the deadline for Brexit looms.

Prof Millstone said: "Not only have ministers yet to develop a strategy or make decisions, they have not even grasped the issues about which urgent decisions are needed".

"UK food security and sustainability are now at stake", said Prof Lang.

"There are also serious risks that standards of food safety will decline if the United Kingdom ceases to adopt European Union safety rules, and instead accepts free-trade agreements with countries with significantly weaker standards", the academics said. It highlights 16 key issues that must be addressed by the Government in its negotiations with the EU.

He added: 'At least the United Kingdom entered World War Two with emergency plans. However, according to the study, even a "soft" Brexit will hit prices, quality, supply and the environment hard. "There is solid evidence about vulnerabilities ranging from diet-related ill-health to ecosystems stress", Professor Lang added.

"Food is the biggest slice of EU-related regulations and laws, yet so far the government has only sketchily flagged a new Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act in the Queen's Speech".

"The government has provided next to no details on agriculture and fisheries, and there has been total silence on the rest of the food chain where most employment, value adding and consumer choice are made".

Author Tim Lang, a professor from City University in London, accused the government of a "serious policy failing on an unprecedented scale" for its handling of the situation. "Anyone would think they want a drop into the World Trade Organization abyss", he said.

The 86-page report, published by SPRU, the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, is the first major review of how Brexit could affect United Kingdom food and farming.

The report, which is based on more than 200 sources, continues: 'Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers'.