British supermarkets could be flooded with chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and pork laced with a controversial drug that is banned in more than 150 countries, as part of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, a leading environmental group has warned.
Wide-scale deregulation of the UK food market is being touted by experts as a likely consequence of Britain leaving the EU, as Theresa May’s Government seeks to forge new trade links with countries that have lax rules on the use of chemicals in food production.
American food safety standards for a range of meat, poultry and dairy products are much lower than those imposed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has until now restricted US imports to Europe.
But in an effort to secure a trade arrangement with the US after Brexit, Britain may be forced to accept lower quality products – from the use of banned flavourings to cloned meat and increased pesticides - in exchange for a quick deal.
The use of ractopamine in pork is one area where regulations may be loosened to accommodate US farmers’ demands after Brexit.
American trade negotiators are likely to request restrictions on the use of the drug, which is banned in the EU, be weakened to facilitate post-Brexit trade with the UK.
Ractopamine is given to pigs and other livestock to “promote leanness” and is used to fatten animals reared for meat.
It features on a US “wish list” of food production methods that Washington hopes will be deregulated.
However, serious questions have been raised about the drug after it was found to cause adverse effects in some pigs, including weak limbs and trembling.
An influx of hormone-treated beef is another likely result of UK-US negotiations after Brexit, trade experts fear.
The EU prohibits use of growth-promoting hormones in cattle based on a calculated health risk, but US trade representatives, acting on behalf of America’s farming lobby, call the ban “unscientific” and say they will work to scrap the rules.
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Brexit will put British patients at the “back of the queue” for vital new drugs, the Government has been warned – forcing them to wait up to two years longer A medicines regulator has raised the alarm over a likely decision to pull out of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as well as the EU itself. ealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt dropped the bombshell , when he said he expected the UK would quit the EMA – because it is subject to rulings by the European Court of Justice.
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The number of financial sector professionals in Britain and continental Europe looking for jobs in Ireland rocketed in the months after the UK voted to leave the European Union
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Lead campaigner Gina Miller and her team outside the High Court
Raymond McCord holds up his newly issued Irish passport alongside his British passport outside the High Court in Belfast following a judges dismissal of the UK's first legal challenges to Brexit
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood leaving the High Court in Belfast following a judges dismissal of the UK's first legal challenges to Brexit
Migrants with luggage walk past a graffiti on a wall as they leave the 'Jungle' migrant camp, as part of a major three-day operation planned to clear the camp in Calais
Migrants leave messages on their tents in the Jungle migrant camp
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (Adra) which distributes approximately 700 meals daily in the northern Paris camp states that it is noticing a spike in new migrant arrivals this week, potentially linked the the Calais 'jungle' camp closure - with around 1000 meals distributed today
Migrant workers pick apples at Stocks Farm in Suckley, Britain
Many farmers across the country are voicing concerns that Brexit could be a dangerous step into the unknown for the farming industry
Bank of England governor Mark Carney who said the long-term outlook for the UK economy is positive, but growth was slowing in the wake of the Brexit vote
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down over 600 points on the news with markets around the globe pluninging
Immigration officers deal with each member of the public seeking entry into the United Kingdom but on average, 10 a day are refused entry at this London airport and between 2008 and 2009, 33,100 people were detained at the airport for mainly passport irregularities
A number of global investment giants have threatened to move their European operations out of London if Brexit proves to have a negative impact on their businesses
Following the possibility of a Brexit the UK would be released from its renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and from EU state aid restrictions, potentially giving the government more freedom both in the design and phasing out of renewable energy support regimes
A woman looking at a chart showing the drop in the pound (Sterling) against the US Dollar in London after Britain voted to leave the EU
Young protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, to protest against the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU following the referendum
Applications from Northern Ireland citizens for Irish Passports has soared to a record high after the UK Voted in favour of Leaving the EU
NFU Vice President Minette Batters with Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsome at the National Farmers Union (NFU) took machinery, produce, farmers and staff to Westminster to encourage Members of Parliament to back British farming, post Brexit
The latest reports released by the UK Cabinet Office warn that expats would lose a range of specific rights to live, to work and to access pensions, healthcare and public services. The same reports added that UK citizens abroad would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed in the future
A British resident living in Spain asks questions during an informative Brexit talk by the "Brexpats in Spain" group, about Spanish legal issues to become Spanish citizens, at the town hall in Benalmadena, Spain
The collapse of Great Britain appears to have been greatly exaggerated given the late summer crowds visiting city museums, hotels, and other important tourist attractions
The U.K. should maintain European Union regulations covering everything from working hours to chemicals until after the government sets out its plans for Brexit, said British manufacturers anxious to avoid a policy vacuum and safeguard access to their biggest export market
Hormones lead cattle to grow larger and faster, and to produce less fatty meat.
But environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth (FotE) warns that the use of hormones supports a system of beef production which has “devastating environmental impacts”.
Sam Lowe, lead campaigner on Brexit and trade at FotE, said: “Regardless of what happens in the coming years, the UK will be faced with a decision: whether to continue to prioritise collaboration and cooperation with our closet neighbours, or pivot towards Trump and the US in the hope that increased trade with the other side of the Atlantic will compensate for Brexit losses.”
The British Government maintains that there will be no radical shift in environmental policy and that the majority of existing EU laws will be transferred to UK law after two-years of negotiations with Brussels.
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom insisted yesterday that imported food from the US after Brexit would have to meet UK standards.
Answering questions following a speech to the National Farmers Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham, Ms Leadsom said: "In terms of the free trade agreement and particularly the reference to the Atlantic and the Red Tractor - I'm a huge fan of the Red Tractor, and there's absolutely nothing that's going to knock that into a ditch as far as I'm concerned.
"And of course food standards are key, I already mentioned in my speech we have a manifesto commitment on animal welfare standards in international free trade agreements.
"We will remain committed to ensuring a level playing field to our high standards."
But environmental campaigners fear a long list of food production methods and treatments that are currently banned could be opened up, including chemically-washed chicken carcasses and milk products with a higher somatic cell count, which indicates possible infection.
Safety experts warn that the procedure of washing poultry using chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate or peroxyacids, adopted by many American farmers, means chicken infected with salmonella can enter the food chain.
It has been called an “easy fix for dirty meat” as it reduces incentives for farmers to treat infections early on.
Rules on milk production in the US allow for a somatic cell count almost double that permitted in the EU.
Somatic cells – the number of white blood cells in milk - are used as a measure of milk quality and as an indicator of udder health.
While it is universally accepted that a higher somatic cell count means lower quality milk, US regulators insist it has no bearing on the safety of milk itself.
Mr Lowe said: “We must be honest about the trade-offs: any comprehensive trade deal with the US will require the UK to make concessions, especially in the area of agriculture and food safety standards.
“This will this impact UK farmers, who will struggle to compete with industrialised US agriculture.
“It will also lead to downward pressure on UK standards, as domestic producers are undercut by products born of a US regulatory regime that permits, for example, the use of growth hormones in beef production and the washing of chicken carcasses in chlorine.”
He also warned that the UK's negotiating position would be weakened after Brexit, forcing the Government to accept major concessions on food standards.
“It is in America’s interests to try and get as much as they can from the UK in terms of what they want for their producers,” he said.
“When you talk about trade negotiations, sequencing is quite important. You don't go to the biggest country first, so with the EU it went to South Korea first to try and get as many concessions before going to Japan.
“From the US perspective, if they are thinking strategically, they will try and get as many concessions from the UK as possible to then use as a baseline for future approaches to the European Union.”
Scottish whisky producers may also be left at a disadvantage as the US is pushing for fewer rules on alcohol production.
Current EU law stipulates that for a product to be labelled ‘whisky’ it must be aged a minimum of three years, and US versions aged for a shorter period cannot be marketed using the name.
However, American trade officials argue that the three-year cap is “unwarranted” and are likely to seek a change to the rules in a post-Brexit deal with the UK.
The US Government states that it “remains concerned about a number of measures the EU maintains ostensibly for the purposes of food safety and protecting human, animal, or plant life or health.
“Specifically, the United States is concerned that these measures unnecessarily restrict trade without furthering their safety objectives.”
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