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Say no to GMO!

And other Agriculture Bill updates

Say no to GMO and other Agriculture Bill updates
07/07/2020 Steph Wetherell

The Agriculture Bill has moved on to the House of Lords for review after its disappointing time in the House of Commons. This is a general update on the issues such as trade as well as an urgent call to action around GMO amendments that have been tabled.

As you will remember the LWA was urging MP’s to vote for adding Agroecology to the Bill and very importantly voting for an amendment to stop the import of food that fall below British Standards. We have been hard at work asking peers to sponsor amendments to the Agriculture Bill on Agroecology, Agroforestry, Public Health, Peri-urban farms, Climate Change, New Entrants, Agricultural Smallholdings, Rural Development, a Land Use Strategy and of course Trade Standards. Amendments with their numbers can be viewed here. There is a real richness of good ideas being put forward for debate – too many great ones many to list them all!

There will be 4 days of Committee Stage – Day 1 (Tuesday 7th), Day 2 (Thursday 9th), Day 3 (Tuesday 14th) and Day 4 (Thursday 16th). Amendments have been clustered into groupings and we’re expecting our agroecology and agroforestry amendments to be debated on Day 1. Funding will probably be debated on Day 2, standards on Day 3 and remaining ones, like gene-editing, on Day 4, though this is always subject to change/progress with the debate. You can watch the debates here starting at 2pm.

 

Say no to GMO!

Two amendments on Genetically Modified Organisms and Genome Editing – Amendments 32 and 275 – have been tabled for debate. These amendments seek to change the definition of a GMO and deregulate a wide range of genome editing techniques for research purposes.

Say NO to this by writing a letter to Secretary of State George Eustice and the peers who have tabled these amendments and instead show your support for agroecological and organic farming techniques. We have drafted a template letter that is quick and easy for you to sign, send and share (only takes 2 minutes), although we ask you to personalise it if you have the time.

This briefing about the GMO amendments, explains what the GMO deregulation amendment it is and why it is dangerous and undemocratic.

Trade Updates

The Trade amendment we were supporting was unfortunately not passed in the House of Commons.

It is outrageous that MP’s have kicked farmers in the teeth and need to be held to account for voting against the wishes of the entire farming community and almost all animal welfare and environmental organisations, going against manifesto commitments. The trade commission and dual tariff system proposed are not good enough.

The dual tariffs can be applied selectively to the most prominent agriculture goods, like chlorinated chicken or hormone beef, but may not be applied to food covered in pesticides on other low standards foods. They can also be phased out when the public spotlight is no longer shining on this issue.

The promised Agriculture and Trade Commission is “advisory only” focusing mostly on animal welfare, with no remit to deal with environmental standards, including rules about pesticides. There is also no clear plan of who will be invited to be on the commission and what powers they will be given.

We feel that both of these promises are a smokescreen to satisfy Lords and MP’s so that they don’t vote for Amendment on trade. If Liz Truss promises not to import low standard food, why can’t it be in law!!!

On Wednesday 10 June, the House of Lords debated the second reading of the Agriculture Bill. Here are the transcripts of speeches given by the 42 members present – 38 of the 42 Lords speaking were in favour of an amendment to the bill that would prevent the importation of food produced to lower standards of food, animal welfare and environment than those allowed in the UK.

We are continuing to support a trade amendment and will keep you updated on the issue.

 

Other actions you can take

1) CONTACT LOCAL PRESS
See this letter written by an LWA member to the local press, putting pressure on his MP for voting against Amendment NC2

2) TAKE ACTION ON TRADE
Join Landworkers’ Alliance members in the tractor and vehicle Drive Slow Demonstration on WEDNESDAY JULY 8. This demonstration is not sponsored by any organisations but is a collection of individual farmer activists protesting the Government’s current Agriculture Bill which will ditch British animal welfare and environmental standards for farm imports, flood the UK market with cheap, low-quality food and destroy Britain’s farming industry.

3) WRITE TO YOUR MP
We encourage you to write to your MP thanking them if they voted in favour of NC2 and calling them out if they voted against Amendment NC2 (you can see how your MP voted here). The Bill will return to the House of Commons so they will have a chance to deal with this issue again.

4) SUPPORT OUR WORK

If you would like to join the Landworkers’ Alliance as a supporter member, we would love to have you. Your membership supports our work and keeps you up to date with our latest campaigns to build a better food and farming system. You can join here.

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