Impact of EU exit on UK food to be focus of annual City Food Symposium

Experts will discuss the implications of a UK exit from the European Union at the annual City Food Symposium.

The full-day event, which will feature a line-up of leading experts from across the UK, will be held on Monday 14th December 2015, at City University London.

Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City, said a UK exit could have significant effects on the food industry, agriculture, supply chains and public health policy. However, the food implications of leaving the EU have rarely been raised in the public debate so far.

The sixth City Food Symposium aims to begin the process of addressing the issue, covering topics ranging from production to consumption, health to environment and science to culture. The core subjects under discussion will be:

– Implications of Brexit for food and agriculture industries
– The roles of different sectors and actors in the debate
– Current food and agricultural policy at UK, EU, global and local levels
– Suggested future strategies for the government and food industries.

The symposium will hear from speakers from business, academia and civil society, including: Ian Wright (Director General, Food and Drink Federation); Martin Haworth (Director General, National Farmers’ Union); Kate Trollope (Editor, EU Food Policy); Peter Backman (Managing Director, Horizons FS); Alan Swinbank (Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Reading); Erik Millstone (Professor of Science Policy, University of Sussex); Geof Rayner (Centre for Food Policy, City); Jenny Morris (Principle Policy Officer, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health); David Baldock (Director, Institute for European Environmental Policy); Pete Ritchie (Executive Director, Nourish Scotland); Peter Stevenson (lawyer and Chief Policy Advisor, Compassion in World Farming); Andrew Curry (Director, The Futures Company); Andrew Jarvis (Vice President, ICF International).

Professor Tim Lang said, “Food and agriculture are central elements in the EU structure, yet they have barely been raised in the Brexit debate so far. Big food companies are nervous about supply chains being destabilised, while farmers and growers are worried about how their exports may be affected. These wide-ranging potential implications are among the critical issues that the 2015 City Food Symposium will address. This is a chance to inform and shape debate by providing analysis and data from experts across a wide range of disciplines.”

“Polls of public opinion show diversity and some uncertainty about what our future relationship with the EU should be. Some hanker after pre-common market days, or fear creeping EU control and interference from Brussels. However, UK food production has been quietly declining for years and the gap between imports and exports has been widening – it is currently estimated to be around £21 billion in deficit. It is therefore vital that, with our health, jobs, food businesses and policy all firmly linked with the EU, we fully understand how leaving it could affect our country.”

The 2015 City Food Symposium is open to the public and free to attend. Places are limited, and registration is essential. The event takes place from 10am to 5.45pm, with lunch provided and a reception. A grand debate will close the symposium.

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