Since when wasn’t our food important?
If Boris is serious about the UK’s health then he must fight to uphold British food standards in the UK–US post-Brexit trade deal.
Our annual trade exchanges with the US equate to £230 billion on average, coming in just behind the EU. Our trade with them averaging £300 billion annually. So, the significance of negotiating a favourable trade deal with the US post-Brexit is of great importance to the British government. But it should be as equally as important to the British people. Let’s discuss why.
Brexit is fast approaching and with it comes the necessity for individualised trade deals. The second round of UK–US negotiations took place between June 15th – 26th. Negotiations covered the plethora of areas that such a gargantuan deal should encompass with over 200 negotiators present. Pivotal to the talks, the US expressed that a deal of any kind could be insurmountable if the UK were unable to budge on their objections regarding US food standards. (Or the apparent lack of them.)
Giving in and accepting current US food standards on imported products would mean stocking our supermarkets with far inferior food than Brits are used to. Like meat treated with five times the amount of antibiotics and steroids used for each animal in UK farms. Highly pesticide treated meat – 82 commonly-used pesticides found in US meat are banned under UK and EU food restrictions. Hormone treated beef and products like baby food containing traces of toxic metals and arsenic. While other products that US standards allow to include rat hair and zinc in permissible small % amounts could also slip through.
Trump and his ambassadors have made it clear that without acceptance of terms for food standards, there very well could be no deal at all (sounds familiar doesn’t it). But this is not something that Boris and our government should roll over and relinquish.
The last I checked, I’m pretty sure those of us who are lucky enough to be able to eat three meals a day, do. We purchase weekly from across a flock of our beloved supermarkets. So why isn’t the discussion around the UK-US food trade deal far, far louder? The standard of the food on our shelves and consequentially our own health is on the line at these talks. These US food imports that could be available to us post-Brexit if the US gets its way will fall way below our current food standards in Britain.
We cannot be taking backward steps in animals’ quality of life and the quality of the product to the consumer as offered by US imports. We must uphold the current UK standards for our food. Doing so is imperative if we ever want to take steps forward in the future to progress health, food standards, sustainable farming, and animal welfare.
And if we cast our minds back a mere few weeks ago, I don’t think it’s hard to recall Boris’ new anti-obesity, pro-exercise, nation-wide scheme: ‘Better Health’. “LOSE WEIGHT, PROTECT THE NHS, SAVE LIVES” instructs the scheme slogan. The scheme highlights the importance of exercise and a good diet in staying fit and healthy. Ironically, it timed in quite well with his Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
But if the message, and intent, behind the anti-obesity campaign is genuine then Boris does care about the health of the British people, right?
Meaning these US trade deal negotiations are a gleaming opportunity for Boris and his government to fight for this nation’s future diet. To stand up for our health. To uphold our tested and verified, safe to consume food standards. Not allow chlorinated chicken, GM pork and hormone beef plus many more sub-par products to flood into our shops.
Or does his ‘Better Health’ scheme tick the box labelled public health for this quarter? For all our sakes I truly hope not.
Policy and Admin Assistant, Urban IQ Ltd.