Imports meeting lower food standards could be allowed without the approval of parliament, after attempts at amending the new trade bill failed.
Campaigners have said UK producers won’t be able to compete if hormone-injected beef or bleached chicken, for example, are allowed for sale in the UK.
National Farmers Union director of trade and business strategy Nick von Westenholz said, “For farmers and for everyone who wants to eat high quality food, it is crucial that MPs are given a meaningful role in approving trade deals.
“Without this, the work of the recently announced Trade and Agriculture Commission, which will advise MPs on the impact of those deals, will be much weaker.”
The Trade Bill amendment sought to give Parliament a greater voice on the final form of any trade agreements.
In the US, Congress must agree final trade deals
The bill will return to the House of Lords during ‘ping-pong’ and the NFU has said it will continue to campaign for the change.
The amendment, which the NFU supported, was tabled in the Lords by Lord Purvis of Tweed and sought to increase the role for parliament in scrutinising the process of negotiating, signing and ratifying Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
As it stands, parliament is not guaranteed a debate or vote on the final form of any trade agreements, therefore its role is weaker than many of the countries the UK government will be negotiating with. The US, for example, requires Congress to agree to any final trade deals.
Nick von Westenholz said, “I hope the trade bill returning to the House of Lords will provide a new opportunity for an amendment to be put forward to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to signing trade deals.
“The British public has made it clear that they want our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection to be upheld in future trade agreements, and by giving some control for trade policy back to Parliament, this amendment will help safeguard those standards.”