No more rub­ber chicken

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor - Fol­low @agromenes on Twit­ter

OUR Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox thinks there’s noth­ing wrong with a chlo­ri­nated chicken nor, we sup­pose, with fill­ing it with an­tibi­otics to get it to grow quickly and keep­ing it in an un­der­sized cage for the whole of its mis­er­able short life. This is the im­pli­ca­tion of seek­ing a free-trade pact with an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent who puts the USA first and sets his face against agri­cul­tural re­form.

Not that it’s Don­ald Trump’s fault—all pre­vi­ous at­tempts at free­ing trade be­tween us and Amer­ica have foundered be­cause the USA re­fuses to ac­cept that we should have the hu­man-health rules and an­i­mal-wel­fare re­quire­ments that we see as fun­da­men­tal. If the whole weight of the EU has failed to get ac­cep­tance of such sim­ple ne­ces­si­ties of in­ter­na­tional trade, Mr Fox has a fat lot of chance of de­liv­er­ing any­thing bet­ter, par­tic­u­larly with this Pres­i­dent.

Chlo­ri­nated chicken is one of the least of our con­cerns. The use of an­tibi­otics in meat pro­duc­tion is so wide­spread in the USA that it’s be­come a ma­jor fac­tor in the in­creas­ing in­ef­fec­tive­ness of what has been mankind’s first line of de­fence against dis­ease. The dis­cov­ery of peni­cillin and the devel­op­ment of its more ad­vanced suc­ces­sors has been uni­ver­sally life-sav­ing. Now, more and more peo­ple find that the medicine is ceas­ing to work be­cause over-use has al­lowed the bugs to build re­sis­tance to them. Euro­pean coun­tries have much more strin­gent reg­u­la­tions about an­tibi­otics, but even here, there are se­ri­ous wor­ries that we are not tough enough yet.

In all pre­vi­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions for freer trade, the USA has in­sisted that we drop our health stan­dards to theirs and that Amer­i­can com­pa­nies should be able to sue gov­ern­ments that in­sist on any­thing more. Those failed ne­go­ti­a­tions were with ad­min­is­tra­tions much less stri­dently na­tion­al­is­tic. Pres­i­dent Trump, of all peo­ple, is cer­tainly not go­ing to stand out against the hugely well-re­sourced lob­by­ing of the food in­dus­try. Nor will he ac­cept that the stan­dards in slaugh­ter houses in the USA are rarely up to a level ac­cept­able in the UK. He will in­sist that the price of a free-trade agree­ment is agree­ing to ac­cept their low abat­toir stan­dards.

The ob­jec­tive re­al­i­ties are there for all to see: wel­fare stan­dards for pigs, poul­try and beef are sig­nif­i­cantly lower in the USA and pub­lic dis­quiet in the USA is grow­ing. Many of their big­gest food com­pa­nies are be­gin­ning to recog­nise, at least pri­vately, that they will need to change. That is partly driven by the EU ex­am­ple and for the UK to lower our health and wel­fare stan­dards to ac­com­mo­date the present Amer­i­can regime would be a ma­jor set­back for the im­prove­ments that most Amer­i­cans think are nec­es­sary.

In Bri­tain, as in the rest of Europe, we have based our stan­dards on the best avail­able sci­ence, but we’ve also recog­nised that food and drink holds a special place in our so­ci­ety. It’s not just that they’re nec­es­sary to life, it’s that they are so in­ti­mately con­nected with health and well-be­ing and they’re cen­tral to cel­e­bra­tion, to fam­i­lies and to cul­ture and re­li­gion.

We are in­creas­ingly re­dis­cov­er­ing the many ben­e­fits of lo­cal food, craft beer and spe­cial­i­ties that are home-grown and home­made. We’re in no mind to go back­wards to taste­less bread, in­dus­tri­alised beer and rub­ber chicken. We don’t take kindly to mon­key­ing about with our food and, how­ever much min­is­ters protest that chlo­ri­nated chicken is per­fectly safe, we don’t need it, don’t like it and, what’s more, we won’t have it.

‘Wel­fare stan­dards for pigs, poul­try and beef are sig­nif­i­cantly lower in the USA

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.