Theresa Villiers vows post-Brexit 'farm to fork' overhaul of UK's food system
Theresa Villiers has vowed to "reshape our food system from farm to fork" with a new review first promised by her predecessor Michael Gove.
The Environment Secretary has launched a call for evidence into the UK’s food system, following an initial pledge from Mr Gove made seven months ago.
The review will look at the production, marketing, processing, sale and purchase of food, as well as the consumer practices, resources and institutions involved in the UK's food chain.
Ms Villiers said the review would be led by Henry Dimbelby - co-founder of the Leon restaurants chain and a lead non-executive director at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - and will launch a call for evidence this summer.
The Environment Secretary said: "As well as keeping us alive and healthy, food plays a central role in our culture and our national life. The threats from climate change, loss of biodiversity and the need to deliver safe and affordable food gives rise to new challenges we must address.
"As we leave the EU and seek to capitalise on the opportunities this can provide for the UK’s farmers and food producers, we have the chance to reshape our food system from farm to fork to ensure it is ready to deal with these 21st century pressures.
"So I am delighted to launch this call for evidence to build on the excellent work Henry Dimbleby has already done on this important review. We should not underplay the importance of the food we eat for our environment, our health and our society, and I encourage people to share their views on the way ahead."
But Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said: "The Government has dragged its feet over this review, it has been seven months since Michael Gove first announced it.
"We need a long-term food and farming strategy to keep healthy, nutritious food on the shelves and rise to the challenge of the climate and environment emergency. But with this government taking us towards a No Deal Brexit it can't even be trusted to guarantee our food security up to the end of the year.
"Labour will deliver the radical transformation needed to tackle the climate and environmental emergency facing us."
The Government’s review will be published in Summer 2020, with a National Food Strategy white paper pencilled in for six months afterwards.
Labour has meanwhile carried out its own review into a sustainable food policy, focusing on a “holistic food and farming strategy” to tackle challenges including food poverty, food-related ill-health and carbon emissions.
The party is set to publish its wide-ranging consultation into food strategy at its party conference in September.