​Environment Secretary Coffey Vows to Cut Red Tape, Starting with Bendy Bananas

​Environment Secretary Coffey Vows to Cut Red Tape, Starting with Bendy Bananas

Posted by Emily on 3rd Oct 2023

The United Kingdom will finally discard the "absurd" European Union (EU) regulations governing the sale of flexible bananas, as announced by the Environment Secretary nearly four years after exiting the union. Therese Coffey made this announcement during the Conservative Party conference, declaring that the much-mocked regulations from Brussels, which became emblematic during the Brexit debate, will be removed from the legal framework. This decision follows criticism faced by Rishi Sunak earlier in the year for not including the controversial red tape on a list of European laws to be scrapped. 

Bananas Image Source: Steve Hopson, www.stevehopson.com, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Ms Coffey explained that this move is a part of the Government's efforts to support farmers and rural businesses by fully utilising the freedoms gained through Brexit, namely freedom from European regulations.

Speaking to conference attendees in the main hall, she stated, "We have already enacted legislation to permit gene editing, allowing us to develop crops suitable for the future. My department is actively reducing bureaucratic hurdles and implementing more intelligent regulations.

Frankly, whether curved or straight, it is not the Government's role to dictate the shape of the bananas you prefer to consume. I can assure you that they are safe to eat. Therefore, we will eliminate the ridiculous regulations, including those about bendy bananas."

Ms Coffey said the move was part of efforts to “help farmers and rural businesses by making the most of our Brexit freedoms, freedom from European rules”.

Thérèse Coffey London Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference 2018 Image Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

She told delegates in the main conference hall: “We’ve already legislated to allow gene editing so that we can design crops that are fit for the future.

“My officials are cutting red tape and introducing smarter regulation. Frankly, bent or straight, it’s not for the Government to decide the shape of bananas you want to eat.

“I just need to assure you that they are safe to eat. So, we will be dropping absurd regulations including the one on bendy bananas.”

The rules widely ridiculed by Brexit supporters leading up to the referendum stipulated that bananas must be "free from deformities or abnormal curvatures." While the regulations do not entirely prohibit the sale of excessively bendy bananas, they do restrict their sale to specific categories, thereby affecting their pricing.

During her speech, Ms Coffey also criticised "environmental enthusiasts who believe that our farmers should cease livestock rearing and instead promote imitation meat consumption." She remarked that "imitation meat may be acceptable for astronauts," alluding to lab-grown steaks in space, but she emphasised her commitment to supporting British-produced meat.

Kemi Badenoch official Cabinet Portrait; 2022 Image Source: Department for International Trade and The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MPSimon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

These remarks coincided with an announcement by Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, regarding a review of UK regulators aimed at identifying new freedoms following Brexit. This three-month investigation will pinpoint areas of excessive bureaucracy within the 90 rule-making bodies, which oversee most sectors of the economy and cost £5 billion annually to operate.


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