Prevention is better than cure

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on why we should change our eating habits post Covid and concentrate our efforts more on prevention in the future.

The current pandemic has highlighted one very important factor whereby the majority of deaths caused where due to individuals having an underlying health problem like diabetes and other health related chronic conditions. Up to this point humanity was heading to a very unhealthy lifestyle where ready meals, takeaways and processed foods and drinks became the norm. Growing up in India during the 70’s and 80’s we were fortunate not to be exposed to these harmful processed fast foods laced with chemicals and taste enhancers which have proven to be addictive and many carcinogenic; the legal definition being something that causes cancer. For any food or drinks to be called carcinogenic there must be evidence linking consumption of these types of foods to an increase of specific cancers in our body. Alcohol, red and processed meats, burned and over barbecued foods are just a few examples.

So, what do we need to do going forward post pandemic to mitigate the effects of fast foods in our diets? The first step would be to make these chemically induced foods very expensive via taxation. I am aware it’s not a popular option but essential for the overall positive impact on our children’s health in the long term. Last year the UK government announced its new obesity strategy linking it to eliminating coronavirus, by banning TV and online advertising and promotion of foods and drinks that contain high salt, sugar and fat. To blame people who are obese is not a sensible solution as it will cause more harm than good as we will develop a blaming culture. Covid-19 is an infectious disease and the risk of getting it is by transmission from another individual. Obesity on the other hand is more a deep-rooted problem of our society and is determined by people’s surroundings, awareness or lack of it and economic status. If you are poor its much harder to make these choices as you are literally living on a hand to mouth existence. One thing this virus has shed light on is the disproportionate way minorities, low-income earners and disadvantaged communities have borne the brunt of this pandemic. Analysis by the Food Foundation found that over a quarter of UK households would need to spend more than a quarter of their disposable income after housing costs to meet the government’s healthy eating guide.

What is the solution? Researchers at Tufts University in America made the case that subsidised fruits and vegetables could prevent millions of cases of chronic diseases. They recommended that instead of Doctors prescribing expensive medications, they should instead prescribe more fruits and vegetables! The study argues that this change could saves £billions in healthcare costs. The power of food as medicine which we at You Can Cook have advocated since the beginning is now slowly finding acceptance in the scientific world and about time it did. Prescribed medicines in most instances have minor or major side effects which then have to be treated with more drugs and this keeps the patients on a never-ending conveyor belt that ultimately only benefits Big Pharma!

Many years ago, while researching about how much NHS Scotland spends on preventative initiatives and treatments, I came across the actual figures which was shocking. Less than 1% of the budget was spent as prevention. It’s time for a major overhaul in Scotland of how we wish to proceed as a society; healthy and strong or weak and dependent on pills for the rest of our lives. You choose.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 9th April 2021.

Reduce meat and dairy consumption to reverse the impact of climate change

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on how we can live on a less meat diet that does not have a devastating impact on our planet.

When we talk about climate change, it mostly refers to reducing our air or food miles and moving from oil/coal to an environmentally friendly renewable option. One big factor is most often missed out in discussions and legislations at government or international levels; meat and dairy farming. Western meat and dairy diet are a big contributory factor to carbon emissions since the 80’s and has gotten worse with many poor and developing nations like China increasing meat in their diets from occasionally to every day! It’s not rocket science to understand the damage this will do to reduce our carbon footprint globally even if we make massive changes to other aspects of our lifestyle. Current data shows that meat and dairy farming is responsible for around 14% of greenhouse gasses.

Research shows that vegetarian and vegan diets are much more sustainable and climate friendly than meat consumption. So how do we go about achieving a reduction in meat and dairy in our diets? Simple solution is to reduce and ultimately stop importing these foods from other countries were its cheaper to produce them but as a consequence have a detrimental impact on the local ecosystems and people. For example, cattle raised on UK lands get access to greener pastures than those reared in South America where deforestation is creating a huge problem to local indigenous populations, their livelihoods and contributes to soil erosion due to pesticides and fertilisers used to generate single type of crops for Western consumption.

Unfortunately, subsequent studies have also shown that even if all Western countries shift to home produced meat solely fed on grass, then that too is not the solution as the already high consumption by countries and individuals will not make a dent in the carbon emissions. The only way forward is producing meat and dairy sustainably, locally and using organic farming methods.

Supermarkets sell milk and some meat products at cost or even at a loss in order to keep their customers coming through the doors. This practice alone not only distorts prices and the perception that meat is affordable but also creates huge amounts of food wastes that goes to landfill and money down the drain from the point of view of the customer. In the UK 4.5 million tons of edible food is thrown away by households and this also contributes to our carbon footprint.

A few years ago, food policy experts concluded that Western countries like the UK should adopt a radical method of eating, whereby they ate meat once a week and reduce milk to a maximum of one glass a day. If you convert to being a vegan and vegetarian than the impact improves dramatically. Growing up in India my family could only afford to buy meat once a week or on special occasions like birthdays. We had a very varied diet with fish, vegetables and pulses and food was cooked from fresh produce and ingredients bought on the day from the market. Only a radical change will stop the planet from tipping over. Tinkering at the edges and shifting the blame on countries like China where the local population want the lifestyle of the West will not help solve the issue. It’s time to act globally but we as citizens of Scotland need to act locally too as any small changes we make will collectively have an impact on polices that will help reduce our carbon footprint.

 Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 5th March 2021.

Sustainable farming methods is the best way forward after the pandemic.

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on our knowledge of where and how our food is produced and the far-reaching consequences of not changing our current commercial food production to a more local and sustainable form of farming.

 In the last few decades humanities thirst for everything quick and fast has accelerated to the point of no return. Its ironic that humans were stopped right in their tracks by a virus that cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you closely look around you in nature, and we are very lucky over here in Peeblesshire and the Borders in general; plants and animal life is thriving as mother earth is repairing and healing itself. It’s such a wonderful sight to behold and some would call it a miracle! The planet has shown us who is boss and also sends us a message that the earth will not only survive but thrive in the absence of humans as a species. Since the dawn of the industrial age, humankind has plundered and exploited the natural resources made available to us as a gift by mother earth, while she watched in silence hoping that men would change their ways.

Commercial farming on an industrial scale has decimated the soil and people’s livelihood wherever it was implemented. Food and water are the two essential things we need as a species in order to survive on this beautiful planet, only after clean air. As a species we have polluted not only the air but also the water and our food systems across the globe. Since the beginning of the so called ‘Green Revolution’ in the 50’s, soil, water and the immediate environment have been sprayed with Agri-chemicals to boost food production, often to the detriment of local ecosystems. Forests have been cut down to grow what came to be known as cash crops. But all is not lost yet! Individuals and grass-root organisations have come together as a collective to tackle this problem head on last year. Since farming is labour intensive, the West outsourced its food production to developing and third world countries, while at the same time providing huge subsidies to its farmers not to grow, thus artificially controlling prices of essential food commodities.

Corporations in turn have been funding our politicians directly and through other means in order to make sure their profits are not impacted. Corporate greed is held in high standards at the expense of citizens right to water, food and environment. Protest movements have risen throughout this pandemic across continents to oppose our current political and financial model and are looking to replace these with sustainable practices in farming, environment and social justice for the working-class man and women in all countries. Scotland should remove all farm subsidies and encourage small scale farming initiatives across the country with training and expertise provided to high school pupils so that they can make a better choice going forward as a career option. Farmers markets should be encouraged in every town, village and city and not just well-off areas where this is mostly a hobby for the middle classes. We want the Scottish government to provide financial aid to small local groups and businesses that produce food in order that this country reduces its reliance on imported food from Africa and the far East.

Now is the time for governments across the world to change gear and this may probably be our last hope to look out for the collective good of humankind rather than just a few, transcending countries, boundaries and continents.

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 12th February 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depraved Tories steal from poor children

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on the scandalous state of affairs of companies linked to Tories providing free school meals to pupils in England.

Brexit has finally happened and citizens of the UK are slowly waking up to the reality of the consequences of being no longer part of the European Union. Last week we learnt that Tory donors resorted to stealing children’s lunch money in England. Chartwells were given the contract to supply emergency food packages to families who would usually rely on free school meals as children were forced to learn from home. The company at the centre of this storm is part of Compass Group Plc whose chairman Paul Walsh stepped down in December last year and was once a member of David Cameron’s business advisory group and is a Conservative Party donor. Once again it raises serious questions over cronyism within the Tory party which has unfortunately blighted their pandemic response. Will the Tories stoop so low that they are now stealing food from hungry children in England to fill their offshore bank accounts? Labour MP Ian Lavery from Wansbeck twitted “Not only are children being denied a proper meal but the taxpayer is being ripped off. This pandemic has exposed the crisis of crony capitalism where the only criteria for govt contracts is how much you give to the Tories. This shameful govt literally ‘takes the biscuit’. This must be the lowest of low that the Tories are stopping to in order to make money so soon after Brexit. The amount allocated and paid for by the government per child was £30 and the kids received what looked like food that cost less than a fiver!

£10.5bn worth of contracts have been outsourced to companies owned by Conservative Party donors and the relatives of MPs, often with little experience in the field of providing these services. Procurement processes have led to loss of tax payer’s money in millions to Serco Test and Trace system (£410m), £108m for undelivered sets of PPE for NHS workers and £7000 a day to Boston Consulting Group to help the government deliver its test and trace system, to name just a few. These are just the tip of the iceberg with more revelations coming to light on a regular basis. It is very upsetting that so called good folk of this country are still not reacting to this level of atrocity committed against children who for no fault of theirs are paying the price of a greedy Conservative government. The myth that people will spend money on alcohol or cigarettes instead of buying food for their children is perpetrated by these evil clowns who want to literally suck the blood of poor working-class families in this country. The irony is that these very people voted for the Conservatives in the last general election, so have no one else to blame for this sorry state of affairs.

The right-wing Tories have to set aside their unfounded fears of the poor misspending taxpayers’ money and concentrate on money that is being funnelled through contracts to their own friends and families. Locally, the Tory led administration have shown to be equally inept and incompetent where council budgets are concerned and are splashing money at corporations and vanity projects like the iPads (£15m) instead of looking after the health and well-being of their constituents. The last ten years have already shown beyond doubt the physical, mental, emotional and financial damage Tory-Lib-Dem policies have caused in the United Kingdom.

God save the people!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 22nd January 2021.

Teach them young

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on growing food as a subject alongside home economics in schools.

One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely taught us is that humanity has to get its act together in order to survive on this planet. No more climate change deniers being elected into power, no more control, funding and lobbying by oil companies of our politicians and governments both local and national. The future may look bleak at the moment but this pandemic will pass like many before it, but we need to radically change our economic policies. More emphasis should be placed on a work-life balance while food and health should be at the top of any governments priority list for its citizens, no matter what the political ideology. 

Having setup You Can Cook and You Can Grow in 2007, we have seen massive changes in the communities we delivered our projects. Not many are aware that we were the first social enterprise/community organisation to setup an Organic Training Garden on school grounds in Scotland in 2015. This project is still going strong with community support and has not folded since the original funding ceased. We worked tirelessly with the school and with support from school staff and volunteers helped develop an educational programme that was linking with the school curriculum, an achievement that has far exceeded our expectations. Pupils from Nursery up to Primary 7 were given hands-on training on how to grow and also cook from scratch with raw ingredients. We acquired four allotments plots on a 5-year lease from Traquair House Charitable Trust for local residents to grow their own food. We provided all the growing materials, seeds, training and support throughout the process, while making sure allottees could cope with growing food for the first time. The project has managed to light the imagination of local residents who felt motivated and inspired to grow their own food locally. This was the first of many steps the organisation took in fulfilling its long term sustainability plan for the Scottish Borders. 

We were the first social enterprise in Scotland to launch a book for growers, no matter what your knowledge or expertise is about wanting to grow your own food. The time is ripe for joined up thinking in our schools with help from local councils to make pupils aware of the consequences of climate change and impart skills and training in cooking and growing so that future generations will be able to be self-sufficient and not have to completely rely on food imports which currently make up over 50%. 

Let’s face it, we all need good, nutritious food and it does not matter whether we are rich or poor, SNP, Tory, Labour, Greens, or Lib-Dems. This is one policy we can hopefully all agree on. Make Food Poverty History.

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2021! Stay safe and let’s grow, shop and eat local!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 11th December 2020.

Conservatives Vote to Starve English Children

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the UK governments voting down of providing free school meals for pupils across England.

The Tories have gone and done it again! These bunch of self-serving crooks voted against a Labour motion to extend the provision of free school meals for children in England until Easter 2021. The most nauseating and disgusting thing about this vote last week was that five out of six Scottish Conservative and Unionist party MP’s voted against allowing fresh hot meals for pupils in England, while the Leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross conveniently abstained from voting due to his so called commitments in Scotland! Just imagine for a moment the Scottish Conservatives and Unionist party winning a majority in the Scottish parliament in next year’s Scottish election! Yes! It did send shivers down my spine, as these bunch of hypocrites including our very own MP David Mundell, who the public voted for as their MP again last year will have to fully shoulder the blame of poverty and inequality in the UK as a whole. It really beggars belief and I am lost for words and angry at how the Conservatives are getting away with murder, time and time again. David Mundell missed voting for the Internal Market Bill a couple of weeks ago too as he was visiting his constituents, a very calculated decision as he is now beginning to feel the heat generated by his party’s decision to lower food import standards in his beloved Union after Brexit.

Earlier this year, Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign that allowed hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays, drawing upon the own troubles that his mother went through when he was a child. A motion had been brought back to the Commons to have the same initiative extended for the upcoming October half-term break and the Christmas holidays in order to help families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and were already struggling in the battle against poverty. However, the motion was defeated by the government’s majority with prime minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and former PM Theresa May amongst the 320 Tories who voted it down. Even Nigel Farage, who I have no respect for due to his role in breaking up the Union! Twitted that “If the government can subsidise Eat Out to Help Out, not being seen to give poor kids lunch in the school holidays looks mean and is wrong”. For once I agree with him no matter what his politics or ideology is, we cannot as a G7 nation, starve our children to death. It’s morally irreprehensible and cruel in this day and age.

Only five Conservatives rebelled against the Government to vote for feeding more than 1.4 million children during school breaks until Easter next year in England. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been barred for life from a pub in his constituency over his decision to vote against providing free meals to eligible school children during the half-term holidays.

Can I appeal to compassionate Peebleans to ban MP David Mundell for life from all café’s, restaurants and pubs in the area? Or are we still okay to be part of this shameful act to starve English children because it does not affect our children up here in Scotland? Fingers crossed and really hoping that the Tories have a change of heart!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 30th October 2020.

Post Brexit Food Standards!

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director 

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Post Brexit Food Standards!

In June this year I wrote about the ruling Conservative party voting to compromise high UK standards by pushing through the controversial Agriculture Bill in parliament by 51 votes! This bill moved to the Lords for a second reading and we all held our breaths hoping the unelected Peers will have some sense of Democracy and accountability and reject the Agriculture Bill in its current format. Well! The House of Lords did respond to the public outcry and backed Farmers Unions and other environmental bodies in the UK and voted to add amendments to the agriculture bill that were rejected in the first voting round in parliament. It was the second defeat for Boris Johnson’s government last week as the Lord’s also backed a move banning the use of pesticides near homes and public buildings or spaces including hospitals and schools. Trade secretary Liz Truss is not happy with the amendments proposed by the Peers and has suggested that they would ban developing countries from exporting their goods to the UK for not meeting exact farming regulations and would undermine trade deals currently being negotiated.  NFU President Minette Batters appealed to the general public to write to their MP’s to add the amendments and safeguard our high standards post Brexit with any trade deals around the world especially the United States of America who are pushing for a comprehensive trade deal which will also include the NHS!

For readers who may not be aware of what actually is chlorinated chicken – it’s when the chicken is washed in chlorine to get rid of the bacteria and other microbes that are normally found in dirty farms and slaughter houses. This practice is currently illegal in the UK and that’s what may be coming into this country once the government’s Agriculture Bill is passed in its current format and will open the UK to very low and substandard poor quality food imports. On top of this farmers are also concerned about meats produced using banned hormones and additives that are currently prohibited in the UK and also pork raised using sow stalls, which confine the animals in a tight space.

On top of this Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland will be forced to accept trade deals made by England that will undermine their respective policies and environmental standards that all devolved nations have worked so hard for in the last few decades. The Conservative government is working very hard to undermine decades of legislations to protect both farmers and citizens from inferior food and food production processes. Farmers will not be able to compete with cheap food imports if the producers and suppliers are not adhering to strict UK/European standards.

Please write to your MP David Mundell and all the Tory MP’s in Scotland who actually are voting to undermine Scottish food production and its already high standards. Can they make a public declaration that has legal implications for themselves that the Agriculture Bill will not lower high environmental standards post Brexit of any food imports? Because if broken they can be held accountable and face criminal prosecution for lying as an elected member of parliament? This is the only way to make sure that crooked and selfish politicians are being held accountable!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 16th October 2020.

Food vs iPads

 

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Covid-19’s devastating fallout on the world’s  economy, food and people.

What has Covid-19 taught us so far? I have been researching and reading lots of articles and opinions by experts in the field of science, environment, food, health and well-being, poverty and social justice since this pandemic began and the devastating impact on the most vulnerable and poor amongst us. Many governments around the world have been supportive of their citizens in terms of offering financial support to keep people from going hungry and making sure they have a roof over their heads. Overall Western economies have given a lifeline to businesses and employees through financial stimulus packages never before seen on such a massive scale. In the UK austerity had propelled mass economic hardships on millions of families through a Tory ideology that made the poor, disabled and disadvantaged suffer for the chaos caused by the rich bankers and financial institutions since the 2008 recession. People that are paying with their lives are low waged, zero hour contract workers in this gig economy, where people are forced to take up work that benefits big corporations through tax breaks and other subsidies offered by politicians to their donors in exchange for either a peerage or directorships after losing elections or resigning; whichever comes first.

As a community interest company we have always looked at innovative solutions to tackle food poverty and highlight the underlying issues that are often overlooked by governments and local authorities in this country.  Since March this year child poverty has increased exponentially across the board with more families falling into economic hardship due to job losses or claiming benefits that are not fit for purpose in this day and age. We as an organisation have never shied away from pointing the finger at the real culprits in this avoidable saga i.e. our elected representatives, whether it’s our local councillors, MSP’s or MP. What can we do now to reverse this trend and abolish food poverty across the country? Councils across Scotland should be making more land available to local communities for converting to allotments and having a healthy supply of local food made available for all seasons. Weekly Farmers markets should be organised and subsidised by local authorities and government to encourage and inspire locals especially young people to look at growing food as a career option. Big landowners should lose their subsides for not growing food which we the tax payers pay for every year.

Growing food organically should be the norm and edible gardens should be made compulsory for all schools where growing methods are taught and pupils trained in this subject as part of the school curriculum. We were instrumental in building the first organic training garden in Scotland on school premises, right here in the Borders at St. Ronan’s Primary school, Innerleithen. This edible garden is still up and running and has a bright future for the school pupils, teachers and community. The legacy will live on for future generations of pupils to enjoy and learn new skills in farming and growing food with no reliance on corporations to supply their expensive fertilisers and pesticides which poison the environment and indirectly has a negative long term impact on the health of communities across Scotland and the world.

This pandemic has already increased food prices by over 40% and also taking into account previous increases of up to 35% since the Brexit vote, you get to see the bigger picture of millions in this country not able to buy good, affordable nutritious food.

Is it too much to ask our council to spend on educating young people in skills that will actually help save themselves and this country from starvation in any future global event? £15 million was made available for iPads and costs will keep mounting as the corporation that needs to feed its shareholders will only get hungry every year for more money and contracts. What is our priority as a society? Food or iPads?

You the people will decide.

Stay safe! Eat well!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 7th August 2020.

Tories pushing Scotland and rUK over the cliff

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on a Brexit extension beyond December 2020 and the devastating fallout on Scotland’s economy, food and people…

Michael Gove has done it again! The cheerleader for the Vote Leave campaign which was founded in October 2015 by political strategists Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings, has announced that the prime minister had been quite clear since the election about the government not extending the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 come what may. What are the Leave campaigners up to now? Since the Tories won an outright majority in last year’s election, Boris Johnson has accelerated the process to get the whole of the UK out of the EU by the end of December 2020 under any circumstances. The reason being that they have been given a mandate by the people of England to crash out of the EU without a deal and create a trade deal with the US and any other country that may wish to form a new trade alliance with Great Britain!

Unfortunately for them “Coronavirus”  let rip through all their plans and has brought this great country to its knees in just a few months. So much for bringing back control and the good old days back to Great Britain. The arrogance of the Tory party and its decision to put the whole country in a state of panic and chaos for years to come is purely based on its narrow ideological views and is beyond rational thinking and strategy. The current pandemic has already raised food prices by more than 25 percent in a matter of weeks of the lockdown and does not look like it’s going to slow down. Families are struggling to put food on the table while at the same time suffering job losses, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. No one is saying to abandon leaving the EU but a sensible approach must be taken to mitigate the causes of the coronavirus pandemic first before embarking on this road to self-destruction. Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium has warned that the UK could face huge food shortages even worse than the impact of the coronavirus! He warned that a no deal Brexit could mean shortages of products like tomatoes and lettuces and highlighted, that in January alone around 90% of lettuces, 80% of tomatoes and 70% of soft fruits came to the UK from Europe. He further warned that a disorderly Brexit would mean that the country would face a bigger challenge than the food supply chain faced with Covid-19.

If no deal can be reached with the EU on future relations, concerns have been raised about the impact having to use World Trade Organisation rules would have on businesses. Over 35% of our food currently comes from Europe, and it is very likely that fresh vegetables and fruits, will become more scarce and more expensive in the event of a no deal Brexit.

So what can we do to make sure Scotland does not suffer due to Tory policies coming out from London? Write to your local MP and fill their inboxes with letters, come out in droves once lockdown restrictions are eased to their monthly surgeries to protest and finally keep the pressure on all elected representatives including your local councillors who also have a vested interest in making sure Scotland and its people do not go hungry.

Stay safe! Eat well!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 3rd July 2020.

UK Food Standards Compromised After Brexit

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on the Agriculture Bill going through Westminster and the House of Lords and the lowering of food import standards after Brexit.

I am lost for words as it is becoming very clear to me that the UK is heading for a new category called the “fourth world country” after the formalities of Brexit are over. Conservative MP’s in the South of Scotland region have voted against requiring new international treaties on the import of agricultural and food products to ensure products imported into the UK under those arrangements comply with World Trade Organisation safety rules and the UK’s own standards. To explain in a lay persons term, we have been screwed by Tories David Mundell (Clydesdale and Tweeddale and Berwickshire), John Lamont ( Dumfriesshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) and Alister Jack (Dumfries and Galloway) in accessing good food after Brexit.

328 MP’s including two Labour MP’s voted against the above amendment to safeguard our high standards and protect farmers livelihoods, while 277 cross party MP’s voted to keep them. Independent experts and researchers were sceptical about the Tories keeping their promises of not lowering food standards post Brexit as America clearly stated publicly that in order for a trade agreement between the two countries all sectors of the economy will have to be on the table for negotiations and according to US standards. This bill before the UK parliament was also a first of its kind to be voted on by MP’s electronically and was passed on 13th May 2020.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and a number of animal welfare and environmental organisations wrote to all 650 MP’s pleading them to make sure the new Agriculture Bill guaranteed that all imported food coming into the UK after Brexit and trade deals currently being negotiated meet the same high standards of environmental protection and animal welfare as is expected of any local food producer. Some of the organisations that put their names to this letter were; NFU, RSPCA, Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust, Greenpeace and many more. The NFU President Minette Batters highlighted the real differences between food production in the UK and other countries which includes the US;

Abattoirs use chlorine or other chemicals to wash carcases which are not allowed in the UK because we have legislation on the way we keep our livestock, limiting stocking density;  We have rules on bio security, lighting, diet and veterinary oversight; Battery cage egg production is still permitted in some countries but was banned here in 2012; Meat and bone meal in feed which was banned in the UK over 24 years ago is still allowed elsewhere; In Brazil, farmers don’t need a Vet’s prescription for animal medicines and don’t need to record treatments. These are just a few examples that will compromise the high UK standards already in place with the new Agriculture Bill.

This bill now moves to the Lords for a second reading and hopefully it is voted out and sent back to the government for a major rethink of this once in a lifetime opportunity to keep the high standards achieved over decades in place and not torn to shreds for a desperate trade deal with the US of A. What will happen if this bill passes into law? Readers may have come across this headline a few years ago; “Get ready for cheap chlorinated chicken and hormone filled beef flooding the UK in a new trade deal with the US”. Not only will the health of citizens in this country be badly impacted by cheap imports but our farmers will not be able to compete with food produced in the US as its widely known how lax the regulations are, if any.

The Tories are running around in circles and trying to get a bad trade deal with Trump at any cost. Rebel Conservatives and Labour amendments to hold the government to previous promises made to protect British and Scottish food and farming were defeated, thanks to our own elected low life’s and career politicians. What will it take to boot the Conservatives out of this area? Is it death squads via Covid-19 or slow food poisoning of the electorate? Well! That’s the choice you have and if you decide to vote these corrupt individuals again that put themselves, Queen and Power before the people than I am sorry to say what’s coming next will completely be our fault. It’s not too late to take our elected MP’s to task and hold them accountable.

Stay safe! Eat well!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 1st May 2020.