Veterinary surgeons have expressed deep concern in what their official body calls ‘a severe blow for animal welfare’ as MPs (including all Cornish MPs) voted against the Agriculture Bill amendment on import standards.
Vet, campaigner and environmentalist, Danny Chambers explains here why UK animal welfare should not be compromised.
The BVA says:
MPs voted down Amendment 16 by 53 votes (322 votes to 279). The amendment, which was tabled in the Lords by Lord Grantchester, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, Lord Krebs & Baroness Boycott, had garnered a swathe of cross-party support, including from several Conservative MPs.
BVA, which represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, has previously urged the Government not to allow animal welfare standards to be compromised in pursuit of future trade deals.
James Russell, BVA President, said: “This result is a severe blow for animal welfare and a betrayal of the Government’s own manifesto commitment to maintain and improve on health and welfare standards.
“After such a strong show of support in the Lords, it is bitterly disappointing that the majority of MPs have chosen to ignore the groundswell of public and professional feeling and have voted against a clause that would have safeguarded our own renowned standards and offered crucial protections to the reputation and livelihood of the UK’s farming industry. We have long argued that the UK cannot commit to raising the bar domestically while allowing in goods that don’t meet the high standards that British consumers rightly want and expect.
“If the government won’t legislate to protect our standards it is vital that the Trade and Agriculture Commission is given more powers and stature to safeguard them in future trade deals.”
Scott Mann on his website says:
The UK Government will not compromise on standards. Our manifesto was clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare, and food standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental protection, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU and the EU Withdrawal Act has transferred all existing EU animal welfare, food safety provisions, and existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. So, at a minimum, our standards cannot be lower than the EU’s.
The legislation for the hormones in beef ban is contained in the EU legislation 2003/74/EC – which was copied over into UK law.
Chlorinated chicken imports are also banned under retained EU law under Section 3 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 defines ‘potable water’ as water meeting the minimum requirements laid down in Directive 98/83/EC.
The above regulation (EC) No 853/2004) lays down specific rules on the hygiene of food of animal origin for food business operators. It provides that food business operators are not to use any substance other than potable water to remove surface contamination from products of animal origin unless the use of the substance has been approved in accordance with that Regulation.
The UK’s food standards, for both domestic production and imports, are overseen by the Food Standards Agency. They will continue to do so in order to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and are separate from any trade agreements.