CAMPAIGNERS have called for a right to food to be enshrined in Scots law to protect the most vulnerable in society.

The Scottish Food Coalition (SFC) has said that everyone should have access to healthy sustainable foodstuffs for themselves and their families and wants ministers to step in to ensure it becomes law.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the next steps for its Good Food Bill, which aims to widen access to healthy local foods and ensure the industry remains sustainable. 

But the SFC said that the country’s food system is failing to meet the needs of both Scotland’s people and the environment. It warned that more than one-third of working Scots worry about putting food on the table., while there are growing numbers relying on foodbanks 

It also claims that methods of food production have harmed wildlife, adversely affected soil and water quality, and increased climate-warming emissions.

HeraldScotland:

Professor Mary Brennan, chairwoman of the Scottish Food Coalition, said: “I urge everyone to respond to this consultation, the outcomes of which will shape how the Scottish food system is managed for generations to come.

“Scotland has an exciting opportunity to be world leading in placing food at the heart of all decision making.

"By doing so we can improve the quality, healthfulness, and environmental sustainability of our food while ensuring that those who produce and prepare it do so under fair, safe and secure conditions.”

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The right to food would guarantee that people in Scotland can access enough to eat. It could prevent benefits agencies from imposing penalties if it meant a claimant’s food supply was threatened.

Dr Sheila George, food policy manager for WWF Scotland, added: “Globally, food production and consumption are key drivers of wildlife declines and climate change. 

"Scotland’s rich natural resources and less intensive farming systems mean we have huge potential to do things differently here, but we aren’t quite there yet.”

“The impacts of the current food system are cross-cutting and the solutions need to be too, which is why this consultation is so welcome. 

"The Good Food Nation Bill could be the catalyst we need to join up our broken food system and make healthy, environmentally sustainable food the norm.”

HeraldScotland:

The SFC is  a broad-based alliance of civil society organisations working on issues of health, environment, workers’ rights, animal welfare, social justice and food poverty.

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Members include RSPB Scotland, Unite, Unison, WWF, Oxfam, Soil Association, the Poverty Alliance, the Alliance for Long-Term Care, Trussell Trust, Fareshare and Nourish Scotland.

It has called for the Good Food Bill to address five key issues, including the right to food, statutory targets in areas such as food poverty and waste, a national food plan, local authorities’ responsibilities and a cross-cutting national food plan.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland said: “For too long the people in Scotland have been suffering the health consequences of a poor diet. 

"If we want to address the accessibility, affordability and acceptability of a healthy diet then we need to see joined up action across the whole food system. 

"We must grab the opportunity that the Good Food Nation Bill offers to change our food system for the better and ultimately improve the health of the nation.”

Jackson Cullinane from Unite the Union said: “This consultation is very welcome and long overdue. It is important that it considers ideas and proposals on the broad range of issues relative to good food provision, including the need to tackle food poverty, improve health and ensure that workers across the food chain have decent wages, conditions and the highest possible standards of health and safety. “

HeraldScotland:

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: ‘We remain committed to introduce legislation in this parliament to underpin the excellent work already being done to deliver our Good Food Nation ambition. 

"To support these aims, the Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation consultation was launched on 21 December 2018 with the focus on a straightforward framework placing responsibilities on Scottish Ministers and selected public bodies with regard to food.  

“The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership reported in December, and recommended a new statutory human rights framework. The Scottish Government will now establish a National Task Force to take forward the recommendation." 

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He added: "The Task Force will be asked to consider all internationally-recognised human rights, including the right to food.’