The US agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue has warned Britain to move past ”the political science of fear” over products like chlorine-washed chicken, as an animal welfare group advised that a Brexit trade deal with the United States could see eggs from battery hens return to the UK supermarkets.
The US politicians have always advised the UK should welcome a deal that could possibly see the market flooded with cheaper products including controversial products like chlorinated chicken and hormone-loaded beef.
In a recent statement, Trump administration’s top official for farming said it is time for decisions to be made based on “sound science” not “the political science of fear”.
Sonny Perdue, the secretary for agriculture, said: “Both the EU, the UK and the United States benefit when we have free and reciprocal trade, and that’s really what our objective is, is to come to a conclusion where we can accept one anothers’ products freely based on sound scientific standards rather than inordinate fears.
“All we are asking from the United States is that we make sound food decisions for the future based on sound science that we can all agree upon rather than the political science of fear. I think we need to trade based on sound science and safety and health and nutrition.”
Sonny Perdue is one US official to attempt to allay concerns over American food practices after public outcry in respect to the possibility of chlorine-washed chicken becoming the norm in Britain.
This comes after ambassador Woody Johnson last week said the poultry should “absolutely be included” in a trade deal, and on Thursday. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said the United States farmers would demand meat produced to lower standards to be included in an agreement.
Mr Pompeo also said, ”Food standards were being used as a ruse to try and protect a particular industry.”
As it stands the RSPCA has advised that leaving the US free hand to access the UK food market could lead to barbaric animal welfare practices coming back to British supermarket shelves, this will include battery caged chickens and pigs trapped in confined sow stalls which have already been tagged illegal in the UK.
Meanwhile, caged hens in the UK are been allocated to an average of 750 sq cm each in so-called enriched cages – which have litter, perches and dark spaces for laying, and the US battery hens may get only a little more than half that size.
There is also a case of sow stalls which stop pigs from being able to turn around properly, which was completely banned in Britain in 1999 but remain widespread across the pond.
There is also a huge concerned that allowing the cheaper produce could leave farmers to choose between abandoning safe farming practices or finding themselves noncompetitive.
The RSPCA’s head of public affairs, David Bowles, said according to a report from The Independent: “They want us to take their eggs, their chicken and their pigs, which are obviously produced in conditions which are illegal here – but also, more importantly, are cheaper to produce because the more animals you get in a smaller space, the cheaper it is to produce a kilo of meat.
“That means that even with transportation costs, if you don’t have high tariffs, or you don’t allow or you don’t stop those imports, they will undercut UK producers and so you’ll essentially make your own farmers noncompetitive.”
When asked about Mr Pompeo’s alleged that the UK was raising food safety as a “ruse” to protect farmers, Mr Bowles responded to The Independent saying: “He’s absolutely correct this is not a food safety issue. It’s an animal welfare issue.”
“The Americans eat chicken which is washed in chlorine, they eat beef which has been injected with hormones – and obviously they’re still alive. So it’s not a human food safety issue he’s absolutely right. It is an animal welfare issue – and the thing that Mike Pompeo hasn’t yet understood is that animal welfare is a very important consideration for the UK.
“We hope that it will be one of their main primary trade red lines when they go in and sit down with the USA. And we hope that they will not jettison our standards to allow in cheaper imports which are illegal in the UK,” he added.