Greens Offer Shoppers Free ‘Real Food’

18th June 2001
news
release

Taste the Difference and Put Your Foot Down for Real Food and Farming

Manchester Friends of the Earth are inviting city shoppers to come to St. Ann’s Square on Saturday 23rd June to try “real food” for free. The stunt is part of the group’s promotion of a new charter for ‘Real Food and Farming’. From 11am, they will be gathering signatures on giant footprints to send to Prime Minister Tony Blair urging him to stick to his promise to review the way our food is produced.

Manchester Friends of the Earth believes there is wide public support for food that is free of pesticides and non-GM. Last Saturday, they collected almost 100 signatures in Stockport and Manchester and hope to improve on this figure this Saturday (23rd). With the foot and mouth crises following the BSE scandal, and the continuing squeezing of farm gate prices by big supermarkets, UK farmers are leaving the industry in large numbers [1].

Meanwhile consumers are losing confidence in our food as it continues to be contaminated with toxic residues such as pesticides, and with GM ingredients that have not been properly tested. Solutions are needed urgently that give out farmers a future and that make sure consumers can have confidence in the safety and quality of their food.

In March, Tony Blair said that he would initiate a review of intensive farming practices [2]. Now Friends of the Earth want to make sure he does not forget his promise. FoE’s “Real Food and Farming Charter” sets out they key issues which need to be addressed in a fundamental reform of our food and farming.

The Real Food and Farming Charter calls on the Prime Minister to:

  • Stop GM crops being planted in the UK until their safety and need are proven
  • End pesticide residues in our food
  • Ensure a third of farmland becomes organic by 2010
  • Support local producers and markets
  • Give a fair deal for farmers who safeguard our future
  • Save our agriculture from unfair global trade rules

Graeme Sherriff, Real Food campaigner at Manchester Friends of the Earth, commented:

“It is time for a fundamental rethink about food and farming in Britain. Tony Blair must be made to stick to his promise of a long-term plan for sustainable farming. We all need to put out foot down for real food and safe, sustainable farming for the sake of our countryside, our farmers and our health. We want shoppers in St Ann’s Square on Saturday to taste the difference!”

ENDS

For More Information
Michael Bane, Campaigns Coordinator, Manchester FoE:
0161 275 6134 (w) / 07 947 606 950 (m)

Notes to Editors
1. 23,000 farmers and farm workers lost their livelihoods in 2000. MAFF expects another 40,000 farms to disappear by 2005. In 1939 there were 500,000 farms in the UK employing nearly 15% of the population. In 2000 just over one third of these remain and only 2% of the population now work in agriculture.

2. On 1 March 2001, Tony Blair went on record saying “I think we need to sit down with the industry and really work out what is the basis on which we want sustainable farming for the long-term and in a sense, what price are we all prepared to pay for that as well. The types of issues we have got to look at are to do with the type of agricultural production we want to encourage, are to do with issues about intensive farming or not, are to do with issues of diversification, and how we are going to market our own produce as well. We need to decide these questions and put them within a proper long-term framework”