A new paper has warned that the UK is unprepared for the most complex ever change to its food system as the deadline for Brexit looms.
The paper, published by SPRU – the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Susses – concludes that leaving the EU poses major risks to consumer interests, public health, businesses and workers in the food sector.
Its authors claim that this is because there is no Government vision for UK food or agriculture, yet prices, quality, supply and the environment will all be adversely affected even with a ‘soft’ Brexit.
They warn that British consumers have not been informed about the profound implications for their food – a third of which comes from within the European Union.
The report is the first major review of the ways leaving the EU will have an impact on UK food and farming.
It examines available industry and government data, policies and literature on a wide range of issues including production, farming, employment, quality, safety standards and the environment. It highlights 16 key issues that must be addressed by the Government in its negotiations with the EU.
The report draws on more than 200 sources, including many interviews with senior figures across the food chain, as well as official, industry and scientific documents and statistics.
It warns that a “Food Brexit” is of unprecedented importance and is happening at a time when the UK food system is already vulnerable, with self-sufficiency also in decline.