The Food Ethics Council (FEC), which submitted evidence to inquiry, supports the EFRA Committee’s conclusion that:

“Regulation has a vital role in maintaining standards. Regulatory reform is not an excuse for a ‘bonfire of regulation’. As the emerging findings from Defra’s own regulatory assessment indicate, the wider social and environmental benefits of regulation often substantially outweigh the costs to business and to the regulators.”

However, the FEC also sounds a note of caution. Tom MacMillan, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, said:

“The Task Force took on an incredibly tricky assignment. While its members came exclusively from industry and were asked to give a business view, they’ve tried to give advice that not only serves their own sectors, but also the broader public interest.

“They deserve credit for taking this responsibility seriously and few would argue with the steps they suggest to cut genuinely duplicated inspections, but that shouldn’t mean giving them the benefit of the doubt on everything. The EFRA Committee reports evidence from public interest groups about potential problems with some of Task Force’s advice, but could have done more to reflect these concerns in their own recommendations to Defra.

“The Task Force’s recommendations are contentious where they stretch beyond its self-avowed objective to cut regulatory costs but not standards, for instance proposing substantial changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and pesticide regulation. Its guidance that businesses should get more involved in developing and implementing policy will also make public interest groups nervous, in light of concern that industry lobbyists already have disproportionate access to decision-makers.”

Notes to editors

1. The Food Ethics Council works on issues surrounding food and farming. Our aim is to help create a food system that is healthy and fair for people and the planet. A report of recent meeting of our Business Forum, where Richard Macdonald presented the findings of the Farming Regulation Task Force, is available from here.

2. The Farming Regulation Task Force report can be found at on the Defra website. To find out more about the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, please click here .

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