I’ve never understood the Brexiteers’ obsession with the UK doing our own trade deals. I’m sure someone could enlighten me on areas where we can gain some advantages where our needs are different from the European average. But Brexit surely wasn’t all about trade deals?
What really scares me is the possible prospect of a trade deal being done with the US without proper democratic scrutiny, which appears to be the intention of the extreme Brexiteers. It seems we must all get to understand the risks better. The Soil Association has produced a magnificent document Top 10 Food Safety Risks Posed By A Future Transatlantic Trade Deal, which needs more widespread understanding.
My brief summary:
- Chicken washed in chlorine to remove bacteria caused by poor animal welfare.
(And did you know that eggs in US must be kept in fridge, as natural protection has been washed off for similar reasons.)
- Hormone treated beef.
- Ractopamine in pork, which can cause animal disability.
- Chicken litter used as animal feed. (Remember mad cow disease.)
- Common use of herbicide Atrazine, claimed to be endocrine disupter.
- GMOs in 88% of corn, 54% of sugar beets.
- Brominated vegetable oil used in citrus drinks, believed to cause health problems.
- Potassium bromate in baked goods, possible carcinogen.
- Azodicarbonamide in baking, possible carcinogen.
- Food colourants that are not allowed in UK.
And this list doesn’t include anything about animal welfare – see previous post.
From my own experience of periods staying in the US, I can say that much US food is excellent, but when you get to the cheap and heavily processed stuff it is quite disgusting junk. And they mostly don’t know how to bake bread.
Rather than worry, support the Soil Association to help them fight the battles, and tell your MP about your concerns.
Featured image shows a cattle feedlot in Weld County, Colorado.
Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue
4 thoughts on “US Trade Deal Risks”
Nice post Barry. You raise a good point… What worries is me is if the only way to make ourselves an attractive nation to trade with post-Brexit is a willingness to become a corporate tax haven and lower all kinds of standards and regulations in the name of ‘improving market efficiency’. The problem is the free market doesn’t do a very good job of accounting for the negative externalities caused by this uptick in commerce (E.G. pollution, health concerns).
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I tried to educate myself on this a while ago, specific to the science and not the politics, here’s a sample of what I found:
According to a report from the Adam Smith Institute (which argues in favour of allowing PRTs), “immersing poultry meat in chlorine dioxide solution of the strength used in the United States reduces prevalence of salmonella from 14% in controls to 2%. EU chicken samples typically have 15-20% salmonella.”
“US regulators maintain it is safe and in fact, their EU colleagues agree. The European food safety regulator EFSA looked at the issue of chlorine treatment and found “chemical substances in poultry are unlikely to pose an immediate or acute health risk for consumers.”
“Environment Secretary Michael Gove has insisted that chlorine-washed chicken imports would not be allowed and that the issue was in fact a “red line” in talks with Washington.”
Personally we eat British Free Range, Corn Fed Chicken, organic if we can get it. And specific to Brexit, are people actually saying that unless we buy chlorinated chicken the US won’t do a trade deal with us? I don’t think so! Because I will neither buy it nor eat it! And obsession with our own trade deals ….. nobody deals for me when I buy a car, groceries, a house, a laptop, a phone. It’s called freedom and should apply to our great nation too.
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I know the Soil Association are a campaigning organisation, but I trust them to present facts according to the best scientific knowledge in this area. I tend to believe that in the US, commercial interests tend to have more political influence than do scientists.
Speaking as an American, I have to say, sadly our country doesn’t seem to care too much about the health of it’s citizens. GMO crap everywhere, sprayed with all kinds of poisons, yes, the chicken stuff is disgusting, farm raised fish…I spend so much more than the average American because I try to buy only organic and if I do buy beef for my family I am very fortunate to have a local farm where the animals are treated humanly and are solely grass fed. I also make almost everything that goes into my mouth, yes my own bread…and if I forget to order cheese from our co-op I try to find cheese from Ireland or another overseas place. I love my country but hate it’s lack of concern for our health!
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