Britons have received some reassuring news from their environment secretary. After years of debate over whether or not chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef from the United States will be allowed into the United Kingdom following Brexit, Theresa Villiers has stated that it will not. In an interview with Countryfile, secretary Villiers said,
“There are legal barriers to the imports and those are going to stay in place. We will defend our national interests and our values, including our high standards of animal welfare.”
She also stated that the government will “hold the line” on this even if insisted upon by the U.S. president in trade talks. No doubt this will frustrate U.S. trade negotiators and poultry farmers, who have invested considerable effort into trying to convince the UK that its meat is safe for consumption. Just last year, the U.S. government paid for a $100,000 press junket that took British journalists on poultry farm tours.
It’s good to see Villiers sticking up for British agricultural standards, which are far from perfect themselves, but at least do not take the ‘sledgehammer’ approach that the Americans do – relying on chlorine to fix all the problems that arise from keeping animals confined in horrible conditions. To quote Dan Nosowitz of Modern Farmer:
“Tiny spaces, wildly overbred birds that have difficulty standing up, and mass production that results in heavily soiled, contaminated birds. Chlorine, by the EU’s way of thinking, encourages such bad behavior. After all, why bother to treat your birds well, when it’s expensive and can all be cleaned off by a 50-parts-per-million chlorine solution?”
The BBC says the argument over farming standards has been ongoing between the U.S. and European countries since 1997, and the U.S. was hoping to crack into the British market following Brexit. “Leaked trade documents showed the U.S. tried to establish how far the UK would, after Brexit, detach from the EU’s hard line against U.S. farm trade methods. U.S. officials had made a presentation and repeatedly raised the ‘unscientific approach the EU maintains towards Pathogen Reduction Treatments [chlorinated chicken]’.” Now that is looking less favorable for the Americans.
Maybe the U.S. should reconsider its methods, rather than get angry at the rest of the world for not accepting them.
The environment minister stated that post-Brexit trade deals will not allow chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-treated beef.