"Our Plea to You is #SaveOurStandards"
It's said that health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it, a statement that has never been more true than when looking back on 2020 so far and the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, not only as a country but also as a planet. It’s things like this pandemic however, that put things into perspective, expose the faults in our health system and make young people more aware of the injustices in our food system; it’s made not just the Government and politicians, but also our local communities and us as individuals re-evaluate what our health means to us and the lengths we as a united community would go to to protect the health standards which we hold so close to our hearts.
And so, if they were under threat, if the future of our health was under attack, surely the government would be the first front trying to protect them? Surely, our elected politicians would listen to the over a million people they represent who signed a petition to save our standards? Surely, our health means more than profit?
When we negotiate a new trade deal with America, we don’t want our food standards to be on the table. While these trade deals are still in their infancy, we can see some of the risks from looking at previous trade deals. Canada saw obesity rates almost triple from 5.6% to 14.8% after their trade deal with the US in 1985 following a steep rise in the consumption of high fructose corn syrup. Do we want to follow in these footsteps with an unhealthy trade deal?
That is where we are heading if we don’t speak up now and fight to save our standards. Polling shows that three fifths of the public agree that selling food with lower health standards should not be allowed so now is the time we need to amplify our voices and put this trade deal on the right track.
As well as changing the food we eat, it is also our right to know what's in the food that we eat. The US has called nutritional labelling on all products, a cause which Bite Back has been fighting to improve, a “barrier to trade” which in itself is incredibly worrying to those who want to stay healthy and informed about the food they are eating. I believe it is the right of each individual to know the health risks that come from eating unhealthy foods. The Government promised to bring in clearer labelling in July this year, so a trade deal could mean undermining Government policy!
While we welcome new trade deals with other countries, it's important that we don't lose our standards amidst them. We stand by the call to give ALL young people the opportunity to be healthy and have access to good quality food and standards no matter where they live, a call which we hope the government will hear.
While they promise the Agriculture and Trade Commission will examine the trade deals, it is clear to us that the 6 months they will be given to look it over is nowhere near enough to ensure the health of all young people and that they should be looking at a time period closer to 5 years; as well as the fact that this group does not have any experts of public health, the environment, or childhood obesity in it, showing once again how health does not have a voice. We need to set the stage for the government to come forward from behind the curtains and take a starring role in the future of young people's health, opposing any and all trade deals that could put us at risk and make the core message of our fight to improve the health of our young people a clear one and a simple one. Our plea to you is #SaveOurStandards.