Part of the new Government’s strategy is to grow the economy.   Based on IBFAN’s long experience advocating for policy coherence with WHO recommendations we urge that any new Trade deals that the UK enters must not be allowed to :

•1. Block positive action on the environment or undermine existing standards
•2. Undermine food standards
•3. Threaten public health or the NHS
•4. Threaten public services
•5. Undermine labour and social rights
•6. Be passed without democratic scrutiny and consent
•7. Limit online regulation and undermine digital rights
•8. Undermine sustainable development and international commitments
•9. Include harmful corporate courts[4]
•10. Limit public procurement strategy
  • The UK should strictly control the marketing of all commercial products targeting infants and young children, at the very least in line with WHO recommendations. Ideally, these controls should be extended to all the globally traded ultra-processed products targeting children 0-60 months as well as the ‘formulas for mothers’ that target pregnant and nursing mothers. (Paras 4, 5.6)
  • The UK should play a much stronger role defending health in global trade fora. It should promote policy coherence with UN recommendations and strong health protective Codex standards. While national governments have the sovereign right to adopt any legislation they consider necessary to protect human health (provided they follow international trade principles) health protective Codex Standards would make it easier to do so without fear of triggering costly, time-consuming challenges at the World Trade Organisation(WTO). Codex standards such as the Canned baby Food Standard are not fit for purpose and have a harmful impact on child health. (Para 5.1, 5.2, 5.6)
  • The UK must safeguard its right to regulate in the public interest and not enter any agreement that includes the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. (Para 5.2)
  • The Reformulation of Ultra-Processed Products that are high in fat, free sugars and sweeteners and/or salt foods (HFSS) will be not be enough to tackle overweight and obesity. Policy actions must also address the extent of food processing. Artificial flavouring and /or sweetening of UPF products for young children should be prohibited and the products should be removed from the UK market. (Para 5.3, 5.6)
  • The UK must strengthen its own Conflicts of Interest and transparency safeguards and advocate that all health policy setting is protected from undue commercial influence. (Paras 2.4, 5.4)
  • UK legislation must incorporate the recommendations contained in WHO’s Guidance on regulatory measures aimed at restricting digital marketing of breastmilk substitutes (Para 4.8)
  • The UK must legislate that any UK-based company follows WHO recommendations when exporting or promoting products.
  • The UK must develop a policy to protect infant and young child feeding in emergencies (Para 4.6)
  • UK monitoring systems must be strengthened, publicly funded and free from commercial influence. (Para 4.7)
  • Scrutiny procedures regarding the safety of ingredients must be strengthened. (Para 7)
  • Front of Pack Labelling schemes are invariably on UPFs and are promotional. Warnings are more effective. Labelling schemes should be government-led with legally binding safeguards that ensure that any statement is substantiated with independent, verifiable evidence that is independently monitored. Sustainability labelling is even more problematic and should not be permitted on globally traded UPFs. (Para 8)
  • Adequate funding for education and health care should be incorporated Regulations. (para 9)
  • Baby feeding companies must not be allowed to fund nutrition or health education. (Para 10)
  • The UK should strengthen paid maternity provisions and workplace safeguards to remove obstacles for breastfeeding by working mothers. (Para 11)
  • Pandemic preparedness: protect against commercial disinformation (Para 12)

 

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