Are the Government's green credentials in doubt after the apparent U-turn on the labelling of cloned meat?
By Jonathan Isaby
Today's Daily Mail splashed on the "betrayal" of consumers by Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman for "sabotaging attempts to regulate or mark food from clones and their descendants" at a meeting in Brussels yesterday.
The Mail website is now carrying this opinion piece from a very angry Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, who says:
"This is an extraordinary turnaround for a Government whose pre-election pitch placed so much emphasis on sustainable food and farming, and on consumer choice... Certainly, the Conservatives never hinted before the election that they intended to permit the sale of meat from the offspring of cloned animals
"Meanwhile, the one protection that seemed to be guaranteed by the party – that of consumer choice – has also evaporated. The Conservatives’ ‘honest-labelling’ campaign was our flagship food policy in Opposition. But when it comes to something so many of us actually care about – cloning – we are to be given no choice or information at all."
"After forming a government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, David Cameron further emphasised his environmental credentials as Prime Minister, promising that his administration would be ‘the greenest government ever’. Instead, we have a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which seems to have yielded absolutely to the minority interests of big agribusiness, and is taking food and farming in a direction no one welcomes."
"I don’t doubt the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to environmental issues, but if the Coalition does not bring the department responsible into line, its promise to be ‘the greenest government ever’ will simply become another hollow political slogan."
I suspect that many ConHome - and indeed Daily Mail - readers will not see this as an environmental issue, but rather in the context of the need to provide consumers with information about products to allow them to make their own choices.
Either way, Caroline Spelman would seem to have some questions to answer - some of which may be asked when she appears before the Defra select committee later today.