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Peer Review

Peers signal a parliamentary battle awaits the Government over UK food standards. 

The Agriculture Bill could be amended in the House of Lords to include further guarantees designed to stop imports watering down standards.

Read more about it here.

The Conservative Party was elected on a manifesto which committed Mr Johnson’s Government to “not compromise” on the UK’s “high” environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in “all our trade negotiations”.

A demonstration by Save British Farming about threats to UK food standards in future trade deals.

But peers continued to voice concerns about the prospect of cheap imports and pressed for new guarantees to be included in law via the Agriculture Bill, which sets out a new policy as the UK quits the EU-wide Common Agricultural Policy.

Lord Addington said the Government would be bound to its commitment on standards if it was written into Bill. “If we don’t get something on the face of this Bill… we have no other way of at least making the Government stand up and say ‘yes, we’re changing it because…’ and I think that’s what this is about.

“I hope the minister is taking this on board because… ping and pong backhand forehand and the odd smash might be involved on this one. We can actually get involved in long discussion when the House is asking Government to honour its own manifesto. I wouldn’t have thought any government wants that.”

Conservative Lord Cormack said his party’s 2019 election manifesto made a “total commitment” to enhance rather than diminish UK food standards, adding: “If this Bill does not create a situation where that can happen then it is indeed… not fit for purpose.”

Lord Cormack predicted there could be a lengthy report stage for the Bill and “quite a lot of contact” with the Commons as a result of any amendments made by peers if the Government did not make the desired changes.

Labour argued legislation must include a requirement for agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards. Shadow environment minister Lord Grantchester said: “The simplest way to decide this matter is by enshrining the UK’s position here in law.”

Save British Farming is campaigning to create awareness amongst the public about the lowering of food standards and to use public pressure on MPs to support an amendment in which the current standards are kept.

2 replies on “Peer Review”

Thank you for the blog. Some points to ponder on GMOs, trading with the EU and trying to build a bigger picture…keeping up with current standards. What does keeping up with current standards mean exactly in the context of GMOs, what could go wrong and what is already going wrong?

I am not a farmer or all-round standards expert but do have some back ground on GMOs and pesticides.

GMOs – EU standards are obviously higher than those in the US, but there is still room for regulatory improvement. Some peers support deregulation of gene editing as does the NFU. The situation is in my mind somewhat complex, little understood and it is a constant learning curve. There is too much to discuss in one comment.

These two opinion pieces (Jonathan Matthews and George Richmond) touch on some of the complexities, but still only cover part of a bigger evolving story that dates back some time…..as I say a constant learning curve. Opinions are divided.

JONATHAN MATTHEWS
https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/19504-who-s-pulling-boris-johnson-s-strings-on-gmos

NB George Freeman MP and the Food Standards Agency also need to be watched. Please read about resignations at the Food Standards Agency in 2012 in the comments section of this blog: https://www.brexitenvironment.co.uk/2018/01/11/gmos-devolution-trade/.

Please see chaos here: https://www.gmfreeze.org/press-releases/changing-gmo-definition-would-remove-vital-safeguards/…and following on… Beyond GM update, 11th hour reprieve (Beyond GM: “In its last meeting before the summer recess, the House of Lords finally debated Amendment 275 of the Agriculture Bill, which proposed to deregulate products of gene editing in UK agriculture.

The debate, which lasted nearly two hours, saw Lords raising numerous issues, though only a few stepped off the well-trodden path of the decades-long, adversarial debate about genetic engineering in food and farming.

In the end, the amendment was withdrawn but only after the government renewed and re-emphasised its commitment to push, promote and facilitate the wide use of genome editing in the future of UK farming and food.

Defra minister, Lord Gardiner also announced that there would be a public consultation “in the autumn” but gave no details about its form or scope.

Public pressure works
We owe a debt of gratitude to all our supporters who responded so fully to the call to write to George Eustice and Lord Gardiner and express your thoughts about deregulation.

Through collaboration with GM Freeze and GMWatch we were able to extend the reach and scope of the action and leave Lords and Ministers in no doubt about public concerns.

We know your words were heard because the issues of public opinion and public trust were mentioned numerous times throughout the debate.

But there is more to do
The 11th hour reprieve is something we should all take a moment to enjoy. But there is much more work to do.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture is continuing its aggressive – and some would argue inappropriate – lobbying activity and PR campaign for deregulation.” Beyond GM).

GEORGE RICHMOND
https://westenglandbylines.co.uk/defra-oversees-our-food-air-and-water-will-brexit-turn-it-into-a-corporate-stooge/?

George Richmond “There is hope shown in the independence and vision of the National Food Strategy.” I disagree with George Richmond, whilst there is always hope, I think we need to delve deeper into the alleged independence and vision of the National Food Strategy….one only has to look at “What we have read” and “Advisory Panel” to see there is little independence in the context of a range of viewpoints. That said, Landworkers’ Alliance did manage to get their foot in the door and they need to be supported with vigour. Immense vigour.

Pesticides
https://twitter.com/GeorginaDowns43

Gene Editing and Trading with the EU. Also, forthcoming consultation

Please see Testbiotech Press Rlease: https://www.testbiotech.org/en/press-release/new-genetic-engineering-techniques-associated-with-numerous-risks

Broadening the GMO risk assessment in the EU for genome editing technologies in agriculture https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12302-020-00361-2

Please see additional points to the Press Release from Janet Cotter.
Additional points from Janet:
The paper concludes that “genetic errors, caused by the genome editing process, have potential implications for food, animal feed and environmental safety“ and that a robust, expanded GMO risk assessment is necessary for genome-edited crops and livestock to be used, if at all, in agriculture. Protocols need to be developed to identify genetic errors and how these relate to their safety. This is direct contrast to the draft opinion[1] by the EU European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on genome-edited plants, which considers „analysis of potential off target effects would be of very limited value for the risk analysis“. However, as detailed in the new study, this EFSA draft opinion rests on conclusions made in 2012 and needs updating in light of more recent scientific publications.

The new study finds that many genome-edited plants make use of the older genetic engineering techniques and argues that any genetic errors resulting from the application these older techniques need also be taken into account.

Contact Janet Cotter: jcotter11@gmail.com

Biotech Lobby tentacles
I believe independent expert advice is needed regarding EU regulations and adventitious presence. Never underestimate the power and reach of the biotech lobby. It is immense and wider viewpoints must also be heard. The EU adventitious presence regulations appear to be often misunderstood and quoted incorrectly. Please also see GM Freeze “turn left at a roundabout”: https://www.gmfreeze.org/press-releases/eu-nations-say-no-to-gm-crops-but-not-quite-loudly-enough/

http://powerbase.info/index.php/Bayer:_Influence_/_Lobbying
(please note World Economic Forum in the powerbase link, inclusion in National Food Strategy reading list and criticism of World Economic Forum by over 400 organisations http://www.babymilkaction.org/archives/23661).

Some say that this was what Brexit was all about…the deregulation of GMOs and the genetic arms race. Please keep asking questions. Robust regulation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution generally is a key factor, but there are also many other factors to contend with.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Agriculture – following on from my above comment.

I am interested in stopping a US Trade Deal for numerous reasons. I am also interested in finding a balanced critique of The Great Reset. The Great Reset very much relates to the future of Agriculture (and much more). In this respect the Reset is something to be watched and monitored in the same way the repercussions of Brexit and Trade (not just a US Trade Deal) need to be monitored. Our current Government needs to be monitored. Please do not believe all the hype about high regulatory standards etc and develop over time your own conclusions on each separate issue. It is not going to be an easy ride. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulation-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/regulation-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution. I personally believe the Government is unfit to correctly regulate the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Please do not fall for the hype. The Government are clear they want to stay ahead in the genetic arms race. The NFU also needs to be monitored for similar reasons:

Lack of public awareness
https://beyond-gm.org/we-dont-need-no-regulation/

More on The Great Reset

One person cannot possibly wear all the expertise hats necessary to write a 360 degree critique on every small detail of The Great Reset.

However, this article written in 2016 helps explain a few things:

https://theconversation.com/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-does-wefs-klaus-schwab-leave-out-53049

Please note from the above article: “Gene editing, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things and autonomous weapons, for example, are just four of many, many areas where, despite our best efforts, we are way behind the curve in understanding what could go wrong and how to prevent it.”

Baby Milk Action on the World Economic Forum
http://www.babymilkaction.org/archives/23661
Hundreds of civil society organizations worldwide denounce World Economic Forum´s takeover of the UN

The World Economic Forum and The Great Reset
https://www.weforum.org/great-reset/about

THREE BIG BATTLES
https://www.etcgroup.org/content/three-big-battles-global-food-policy-looming

World Food Systems Summit is part of a three-pronged corporate food policy power grab

February 12, 2020—A corporate alliance (consisting of Big Ag, the World Economic Forum, philanthro-capitalists and others) have spearheaded three separate initiatives (the Food Systems Summit, restructuring research institutions, acceleration of data collection) which threaten to converge and utterly transform the multilateral food and agriculture system.

ETC believe if successful, these initiatives would further force-feed the failed industrial food system to the public sector and world agriculture, binding governments to a corporate agenda that marginalises farmers, civil society, social movements and agroecology.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment with some of my personal thoughts. Hope they provide food for thought for brain storming the many conundrums that face us. Some of these conundrums would still have been there had we remained in the EU. Please see: https://corporateeurope.org/en/pressreleases/2018/12/innovation-principle-trap-corporate-lobbies-attack-reach-and-precautionary

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