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Sustainable Food Guide
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UK Farmworkers wages are the last group whose wages are controlled by the state (Wages Board) to make sure that conditions don't get too bad. The Transport and General Workers Union led the campaign for the Gangmasters Licensing Act which came into force in 2004.

Health & Safety

Farming is the most dangerous workplace in UK. When you go to work on a farm, you are more likely to be killed while at work, than in any other work in the UK (HSE Statistics). The Curry Report (p48) - considered by many as the blueprint for more sustainable UK farming, recognised the seriousness of the fatal rate - about one death every week. In addition, over 100,000 working days are lost a year.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified agriculture as one of eight priority areas in its "Revitalising Safety" campaign, for national targets for safety to be met. Arising from this, the HSE worked with employers and trade unions to develop health and safety skills to enable managers and employees to promote better health and safety practices on farms. farmworker

Is 'organic' healthier at work?

A survey of health and well-being, using a self reporting system SF-36, was carried out among field and packhouse workers in UK vegetable horticulture - both organic and conventional. Most workers (>90%) were young migrant workers from Eastern Europe. The study found that there is no difference in the (self-reported) health of workers between organic and conventional horticultural farms - but both were worse than the norm. The findings "suggest that a great deal of improvement in the self-reported health of farmers will need to occur before organic farms meet the requirements of the ‘Principle of Health’ as described by IFOAM'". Nevertheless, the organic workers were found to be happier... (More and complete article by School of the Environmental and Natural Resources, Bangor University).

Following public consultation about whether imported organic produce should be "air-freight labelled", the Soil Association decided to not add an air label, instead now consulting about how organic importers should demonstrate that they are trading ethically - eg by using their ethical code 'Chap 70'.


The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and trade union organisations committed to working together to identify and promote ethical trade. This identifies good practice in the implementation of a code of conduct for good labour standards, including the monitoring and independent verification of the observance of ethics code provisions, as standards for ethical sourcing. For more on Workers in the Ethical Matrix


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