A petition to protect food and farming standards in the UK has passed one million signatures after three Hertfordshire MPs voted against a bill amendment

The petition set up by the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales (NFU) was in response to fears of food standards being lowered as a result of future trade deals post Brexit.

MPs have been voting on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill - which went through its third reading in May. But in the bill, there are no protections for minimum food safety standards nor safeguards for Britain’s farmers.

A proposed bill amendment to ensure all food imports comply with World Trade Organisation safety rules and the UK's standards was defeated by 328 to 277 votes - a majority of 51 - as it failed to receive support of the Conservative Government.

The MPs in Hertfordshire who voted down the amendment includes Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, Watford MP Dean Russell and South West Hertfordshire MP Gagan Mohindra.

The petition is calling on the Government to reconsider its vote and put into laws, rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here.

Dean Russell

Watford Observer:

Dean Russell MP

Conservative MP Dean Russell, said the amended bill was voted down because it has many details already outlined in UK law and said the Government "will not compromise on our standards".

Mr Russell added: "Due to recent media reports that UK food standards will be lowered I understand why the petition has attracted so many signatures, but I know from speaking to Ministers that this Government will not compromise on our standards and remains firmly committed to upholding high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU.

"The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions onto the UK statute book.

"The food safety amendment to the Agriculture Bill was voted down because it contained many details already outlined in UK law.

"All parts of the UK should be proud of our world-leading food, health and animal welfare standards and we will not lower our standards as we negotiate new trade deals."

Gagan Mohindra

Watford Observer:

Gagan Mohindra MP

Conservative MP Gagan Mohindra said at the end of the transition period the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU standards into domestic law, including a ban on artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products.

He added: "I recognise the importance the public attach to high standards of production, and the unique selling point it provides our farmers with, so DEFRA and the Department for International Trade are therefore committed to maintaining standards in any trade deal.

"British consumers want high welfare produce, and if our trading partners want to break into the UK market, they should expect to meet those standards. All food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements.

"At the end of the transition period the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU standards into domestic law. This includes a ban on using artificial growth hormones in both domestic and imported products and nothing apart from potable water may be used to clean chicken carcasses.

"The Government has also committed to a serious and rapid examination of what could be done through labelling in the UK market to promote high standards and high welfare goods."

Oliver Dowden was contacted for comment but didn't get back in time for publication.

The petition has now surpassed one million signatures and the NFU chairman for Hertfordshire is thanking the public for their support.

According to the NFU more than 75,000 people also have been contacting their MP urging them to support the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission.

The commission can review trade policy and develop solutions that hold all food imports to high standards.

The county's chairman Jamie Burrows said: "It's clear the public don't want to see food on supermarket shelves, or in their restaurants or cafes, that fall below the standards British farmers adhere to.

"It's fantastic that so many people have backed the petition.

"I would like to thank those who have signed and I hope our Hertfordshire MPs will take note of this strong support when they next vote on the Agriculture Bill."