Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with concerns about pesticide standards.
It is vital that we uphold Britain’s high animal welfare, food safety and environmental standards in all future trade deals – including UK pesticide standards – to protect public health, the environment and prevent our British farmers from being undercut.
I voted for amendments to both the Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill which would have ensured that agricultural products could not be imported into the UK if they were produced to lower animal welfare, environmental, plant health and food safety standards than those required for UK products. Disappointingly, these amendments were voted down by the Government, despite its manifesto pledge to not compromise on standards in future trade deals.
I also supported efforts to amend the Agriculture Bill to require government to monitor the impact of pesticides, to research alternative methods of pest control, and to consult on a target to reduce the use of pesticides. Unfortunately, this was also rejected.
Following campaigning by the National Farmers’ Union, the Government has launched a Trade and Agriculture Commission to make recommendations on UK trade policy, export opportunities and the global promotion of animal welfare standards.
I am concerned, however, that the Commission lacks the teeth to have any real impact on the UK Government’s trade policy and that its recommendations will come too late, and carry too little weight, to affect the content of the trade agreements currently being negotiated.
We cannot trade away our British values in pursuit of a trade deal. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Government to uphold our standards, as well as calling for greater scrutiny of trade deals.