No Food Bill in the Queen's Speech
A raft of planned government bills were announced today (Tuesday 10 May) as the Prince of Wales opened parliament on behalf of the Queen.
The Queen's Speech
The speech laid out the government's agenda for the coming year, with 38 bills outlined covering a range of issues from post-Brexit trade to imposing jail terms for protestors.
Among the promised legislation was deregulation of new genetic-modification techniques – which the Soil Association has grave concerns around.
But missing from the list of bills was the promised Food Bill. This was promised within six months of the publication of the National Food Strategy review last summer.
The Soil Association was a key advisor on this review, which outlined a series of recommendations including rolling out agroecology and sustainable, healthy diets across the UK.
The Soil Association's Response
Today we have criticised the government’s lack of action in making this a reality.
Our Head of Food Policy Rob Percival said: “The absence of a Food Bill in the Queen’s Speech is deeply disappointing. The government’s response to the National Food Strategy is now long overdue, and a Food Bill would represent the best vehicle for delivering its recommendations.
“We desperately need to overhaul our food system to build resilience in the face of climate and geopolitical turmoil, and spark a shift to nature-friendly, agroecological farming that supports healthy and sustainable diets. We fear a half-hearted and disjointed response to the National Food Strategy represents a missed opportunity.
“The climate and nature crises are escalating, but the legislative agenda laid out in this Queen’s Speech suggests our government is more interested in stamping out legitimate protests, forcing through environmentally questionable trade deals, and deregulating unpopular gene-editing technologies, than the important task of reforming our broken food system.
“As recently highlighted by the IPCC, we cannot reverse the climate and nature crises without significant changes to how we eat, which will also improve the nation’s health – government must face up to the scale of the challenge and take bold action now.
“With many families struggling to put food on the plate, the absence of a bill to make good food available to all is nothing less than negligent. Of utmost importance is that every child is provided with at least one healthy and sustainable meal each day, with schools and caterers empowered to deliver this.
“It’s essential that the White Paper, when it’s eventually published, commits to the wider implementation of a whole school approach, mandatory accreditation, and universal compliance with school food standards, building on the example set by Food for Life – as called for by the National Food Strategy.”