The Good Food Nation Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament last year by MSP Mairi Gougeon for Angus North and Mearns and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Islands.
So what is the Good Food Nation bill? The bill requires Scottish ministers and certain public bodies to create Good Food Nation plans. The relevant bodies identified in the Bill are boards of health and local authorities (councils). Other public bodies may be required to produce plans in the future. Scottish ministers and relevant authorities must take these plans into account when carrying out certain functions. These functions will be defined by Scottish Ministers in secondary legislation which will be considered by the Scottish Parliament. The bill was created to support the Scottish Government’s ambition for Scotland to become a ‘good food nation’. In 2014, the Scottish Government released a discussion paper entitled “Recipe for Success: Scotland’s National Food and Drink Policy – Becoming a Good Food Nation”, which pledged that by 2025, Scotland would be “a good food nation, where people from all walks of life take pride in, enjoy and benefit from the food they produce, buy, cook, serve and eat every day”.
The bill encompasses the following key concepts:
- The Scots are keenly interested in their food;
- The people who serve and sell food ensure that it is of high quality.
- Everyone in Scotland has easy access to the healthy and nutritious food they need.
- Diet-related illnesses are on the decline;
- The environmental impact of food consumption decreases; and
- Scottish producers are ensuring that what they produce is increasingly healthy and environmentally friendly.
Children in Scotland The national agency for voluntary, statutory and professional organizations and people working with children and their families has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Good Food Nation Bill, calling for the incorporation of the right to food in Scottish law. Scotland’s ‘Right to Food’ Bill covers very different aspects of food and has been proposed by Labor MSP Rhona Grant, and the intention is to incorporate the Bill into Scottish law. . Government bureaucracy is the same no matter where you are on this planet. Some countries may be more efficient than others, but overall the operation and processes are very similar and tightly controlled. This is the flagship policy of the current Scottish Government and it has come a long way since 2014 when the idea was first presented to the public. To give credit to the Scottish National Party (Scottish Government), this is a very forward thinking and radical way of looking at food in Scotland and for the first time ever food will become an indicator of people’s health and wellbeing. people and hopefully a human right!
So, will the Bill achieve what it sets out to achieve in the years to come for the people of Scotland? The answer is still not very clear, because we are at the very beginning of a very long process. The original bill tabled is vague, highly ambiguous and unclear as to who will ultimately be responsible for providing good, nutritious food to Scottish citizens or not. On the face of it, the bill appears to address all the major factors in determining who, when and how the policy should be implemented, but as they say in any flagship policy, the devil is in the details. After reading the bill, we as an organization are not fully confident that this policy will do what it is intended to deliver to its intended audience, especially children, low income families, people receiving benefits and vulnerable groups. The reason being that not all benefits are under the control of Holyrood, for example, Universal Credit. In determining the content of the national plan for good food, Scottish Ministers must take into account, among other things, the possibility that food-related issues affect outcomes with regard to (a) social and economic well-being ; (b) the environment; (c) health; and (d) economic development. These factors alone make it impossible to expect constructive, positive and long-term results for the very part of society that it aims to help and solve food-related health problems and inequalities. Most aspects of the bill, as I have already mentioned, are vague and will not even eliminate the very problem that this bill is supposed to solve.
Local authorities and health boards are required by law to develop “Good Food Nation plans” with a specific public authority! I’m not sure what or who it refers to. According to this bill, “diet-related problem” means
(a) food material, or
(b) any other matter relating to (i) the availability of food, (ii) the production, processing or distribution of food, (iii) the preparation or service of food to consumers. It will once again be up to big business and corporations to heavily influence this bill in their favour, as profits will start to plummet if more food is grown locally and by small farmers and community groups.
Me and many others across the political divide have argued that Scottish Labor MSP Rhoda Grant’s Right to Food (Scotland) Bill should be included in the Good Food Nation Bill to ensure no one go hungry in Scotland. If the bill becomes law, the Scottish government would have a responsibility to ensure that food is available, accessible and adequate for everyone. Ultimately, this will help Scottish citizens get quality, cheap and affordable nutritious food for everyone. In a nutshell, a slow but steady start to what may well become a shining example for the rest of the world to see effective and robust local food policy across Scotland.
(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also does not endorse the views of the author.)
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