7.22.2017

Brexit: A threat to Britain’s food security? | UK

As round two of Brexit talks kicked off this week, how much will Britain have to cough up for 44 years of EU membership? And how will Brexit affect food security and farming in the UK?

There’s a lot of noise about what’s likely to be a very big “divorce” bill. But there’s been relative silence about food security since the Brexit referendum.

A new report published by the University of Sussex calls this lack of focus “astonishing” – criticising that British consumers have not been informed about the “enormous” implications of Brexit for agriculture and farming.

According to the report, the “Food Brexit” is happening at a time when Britain’s food system is already vulnerable, with self-sufficiency in decline. It warns that, after decades of EU regulation, the British government is “sleepwalking” into a future of insecure, unsustainable, unsafe and expensive food supplies. 

Food is the largest single UK manufacturing sector, and one-third of its workforce comes from overseas. About one-third of Britain’s food is currently imported from within the European Union.

David Coker, a lecturer in finance at Westminster University, talks about food security post-Brexit and explains why he thinks the UK and the United States could strike a trade deal on food.

“President Trump has gone on record saying that a deal with the UK could happen very quickly and also NAFTA renegotiations have just opened up in Washington. They’re going to take the seats on August 16, and we feel there could be a case put forward by the Americans at that point for the UK to join NAFTA,” says Coker.

It’s in the UK’s best interest to have a very strong agricultural sector.

David Coker, lecturer in finance, Westminster University

Coker believes the possibility of the UK joining NAFTA would yield positive results and raise the standards of American farmers.

“Much like the US raised Mexican standards of food when they started trading with the United States, the UK could have a positive impact upon the United States, in the sense that some producers of food, in order to trade with the UK post-Brexit, will have to adopt these very, very stringent [food]
standards that the UK and the EU have collectively designed. In fact, they’re some of the most strongest in the world.”

Asked about the future of British farming and food security post-Brexit Coker says, “We get farm subsidies via the EU and they’re distributed by DEFRA. We feel that in the UK post-Brexit definitely will maintain those subsidies. It’s in the UK’s best interest to have a very strong agricultural sector. They’re not going to do anything that’ll destroy the viability of British farming.”

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Digital zombies: Is internet addiction real? Our online addiction has increased dramatically since the “dot-com” era. Internet users worldwide now spend on average two hours each day on social media and messaging services alone. And the internet is capturing more and more of our time each day.

Our connected lives drive digital advertising revenues, which has some people wondering whether all of this is good for our mental health.

Matthew Knight, head of strategic innovation at digital communications firm CARAT, takes a look at the techniques technology companies use to keep us online for longer.

South Korea employment: Getting a job can be challenging for young people in South Korea, where the youth unemployment rate is higher than 10 percent. Many potential employers ask candidates to include a photo with their application, making the process even more competitive in a country obsessed with appearance.

Now, President Moon Jae-in is trying to change that practice with a campaign called “blind hiring,” as Kathy Novak reports from Seoul.

The cost of Nigeria’s oil production: Oil production in southern Nigeria is at its highest level in the last two years, but it seems to be coming at a cost. There’s growing anger over pollution that’s affecting local communities. Ahmed Idris reports from the Niger Delta

Armstrong’s moon dust bag: Space astronaut Neil Armstrong’s bag that was used to carry the very first lunar samples back to Earth was sold for $1.8m at an auction in New York. Kristen Saloomey reports from New York.

Source: Al Jazeera

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