Letter: Beef cruelty crisis

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Sir: BSE was not a creation of the Tories, the EU or the French. It was the result of feeding sheep's brains to cattle in an attempt to produce bigger cows and cheaper meat. The crisis over French beef concerns the feeding of sewage to cows as a cheap source of food.

The EU continues to battle against US demands that we drop all objections to the use of growth hormones to fatten up farm animals. Intensive farming means diseases can spread more easily among livestock, so antibiotics must be used, resulting in antibiotic resistance in humans.

Amidst the nationalistic furore, we have ignored the root cause: cruel intensive farming methods. At the prices farmers are paid for non-organic meat and eggs, they cannot afford to provide decent food, veterinary care and humane conditions for their animals. Single Market competition means that prices are driven down so that standards fall with them.

Food safety will not improve until the EU sets its face against intensive farming and enforces high welfare-based standards. That will happen only when consumers are prepared to pay for it. Until then, we will continue to pay an ever rising price for our short-sighted cruelty in the form of food scares, diseases and deaths.

ALAN T BATES

Christ's College, Cambridge

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