The difference between the government’s animal welfare rhetoric and its actions have been exposed yet again, says Green Party’s animal spokesman Keith Taylor MEP.
The difference between the government’s animal welfare rhetoric and its actions have been exposed yet again with the latest revelations about a £25 million deal to export non-stun slaughtered lamb meat to Saudi Arabia.
When the food minister George Eustice announced the deal in February, it was unclear whether the animals would be stunned before being slaughtered in the UK.
But as Vet Record magazine has recently revealed, the only UK scheme approved by the Riyadh-based Gulf Accreditation Centre to certify the exported meat is the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC), which forbids all forms of stunning.
The UK government’s desperation to do any deal with a brutal and extremist dictatorship should shame the whole nation.
But while the focus, understandably, has been on Ministers’ continued insistence on selling the Saudis the weapons used to commit war crimes in Yemen the decision to misapply EU rules to facilitate non-stunned lamb meat exports to the Kingdom of cruelty has garnered little attention.
The EU ban on non-stun slaughter contains a specific exception to allow Member States to produce meat to fulfil the demands of their domestic orthodox religious communities.
Not for export. Disgracefully, the stats already show the UK is failing to uphold this requirement. The Saudi deal only compounds the failure.
The Conservative government clearly sees no issue in sacrificing animal welfare standards on the altar of free trade once Britain is yanked out of the Single Market.
Take, as another example, the desperate rush to sign a deal with Trump’s America.
As my latest report makes clear, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) present one of the biggest post-Brexit threats to animal protection in the UK. Membership of the EU has ensured a high degree of consistency on standards and a level playing field for the trade in farmed animal products.
However, as the Conservative government pushes Britain towards a ’no deal’ Brexit, a desperate pursuit of post-Brexit trade deals with countries with fewer welfare protections is likely to lead to an increase both in imported and exported animal products produced to lower animal welfare standards.
The EU ban on seal products, the bovine growth hormone BST, other hormones in beef and pork such as Ractopamine and chlorine-washed chicken have long been a target for countries like the USA which has been prevented from trading various agricultural products with EU member states on animal welfare and public health grounds.
These will all be vulnerable to panicked bilateral FTAs.
But EU welfare protections are supported by UK farmers; not one has expressed a desire to reduce welfare safeguards post-Brexit. But on its current Brexit course, that is exactly what the Government is pushing.
Scrapping EU animal welfare standards and forcing UK farmers to compete against cheap, imported food from countries like the US that have significantly lower welfare standards will ensure that almost one billion UK farm animals will be the biggest Brexit losers as domestic regulations are driven down in the name of ‘competitiveness’.
Farmers and consumers will lose out too; especially those who care about animals and have no desire to eat or produce chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef or be exposed to an array of pesticides currently banned on health and environmental grounds.
Keith can be found tweeting at @GreenKeithMEP.