26 July 2017
Liam Fox, the secretary of state for international trade, is currently trying to establish a basis for a trade deal with the US. Wales Green Party deputy leader, Pippa Bartolotti, condemns any attempt to dilute existing regulation post-Brexit, especially when it comes to food safety and animal welfare.
In her blog, Bartolotti writes: “The US have for years condoned poor animal welfare standards, GM crops and ridiculous amounts of heavily subsidised corn syrup in almost everything Americans eat. More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults in America are considered to be overweight or obese.
“The US Department of Agriculture are spending more than $1.28 billion annually to subsidize the crops that are used as additives in manufacturing cakes, biscuits, confectionary, fizzy drinks and other highly popular junk food that are arguably the primary contributors to childhood obesity.
“Horrifyingly, the USDA refers to fresh fruits and vegetables as “specialty crops.” Specialty crops do not receive subsidies. In fact, farmers who participate in agricultural subsidy programs are generally prohibited from growing fruits and vegetables on the so-called “base acres” of land for which they receive subsidies.
“Is this the society we want to trade with? Worse, is this the mentality we are going to adopt in order to make trade with the US palatable to our own citizens?
“It all comes down to price rather than cost. Bad animal welfare is cheaper than good, but who knows what does not get washed out with the chlorine. The increasingly marginalised poor of our own country will not have the choice. They have to buy cheap, yet the cost to human health will be astronomical. The cost to the environment in terms of transport pollution is also high. America is a long way away.
“And what of our own farmers, who voted for Brexit. Increasing competition from a bad trading partner will force them to lower our current standards of welfare. Trust in food will be diminished, ‘the market’ will force them to either stoop to the lowest common denominator, or go out of business.
“The US has long pushed a general dilution of health and environment regulation, with hormone-treated beef and poultry processed with chlorine both currently banned under EU regulation. Food industry lobbyists in the US have also resisted products processed with chemicals from being clearly labelled.”