Tory leader David Cameron has pledged to introduce new laws on food labelling if the Conservatives are returned to government at the next general election.
 

Mr Cameron told the Oxford Farming Conference 2007 that the rising popularity of local food was an example of “ethical consumerism” and that it represented the greatest opportunity for Britain’s farmers to increase profitability.

 

“You must not miss it,” he said.

 

To assist farmers in making this connection with consumers he said a Conservative government would introduce legislation requiring clear country-of-origin labelling of food and its constituents. 

 

“I’m convinced that the long-term interest of British farming is best served by British consumers demanding quality British produce,” Mr Cameron said.

“Today British consumers can find it difficult to back British farmers, because of inadequate labelling.”

He added: “Food can be imported into Britain, packed or processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it’s genuinely British. That is completely wrong.

“I cannot overstate the importance of enabling informed consumer choice. Effective marketing can only be achieved if labelling is accurate and clear.”

Mr Cameron said that local food was part of a new dawn of opportunity for British agriculture that included developing markets for biofuels to help tackle climate change.

Growing markets for wool for home insulation, willow coppice to provide fuel for local boilers, and hemp for turning into breeze blocks put the farmer firmly at the centre of efforts to tackle climate change, he said.

But he was realistic about profit potential: “So far it’s been tough to make profits in these markets. And as the sceptics point out, not every farmer can go down this path and, even if they did, we wouldn’t solve all our environmental or security problems.

“But these are new markets, and they are an important part of the future.”

 

Mr Cameron added that a Conservative government would “do all that it could” to remove the obstacles to the development of these new markets.

 

If necessary, he said, it would consider incentives to speed their development including tax breaks. 

 

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