Heard the one about the chlorinated chicken? Liam Fox, the trade secretary, accuses the media of being obsessed with chlorine washed chicken in the American Free Trade deal. I agree with him. Gasp. For we’re looking in the wrong direction. Things are far worse than chlorinated chicken.
It is a widespread practice in America to wash chicken in chlorine to kill bacteria on the meat after slaughter. It is necessary because the overfed chickens live in cramped, unsanitary conditions. Conditions are so appalling that it causes chicken flesh to rot while the birds are alive. But the system reduces production costs and increases profit. And the risk of disease and contamination!
Europe has ban the practice permitting washing with cold air or water only. It is part of the ‘farm to fork’ approach which unlike America regulates lighting, space and ventilation for poultry. It is not perfect, but Europe is continually working to improve hygiene and animal welfare.
Beyond Fowl (Chicken)
The American poultry industry also routinely, as standard practice, feed chickens an array of antibiotics. It may prevent disease, but superbugs are a possible consequence. American chickens also have arsenic, antihistamines and steroids in their diet. And it can't be good for ours either.
But we should shout foul play at more than just chicken. American farmers give cows a stimulate to increase milk productivity. Cattle receive growth hormones, and pork fortified with ractopamine. So, The trade deal in the pipeline makes the dreaded Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership here look attractive.
Power and Negotiation Skills
America has three significant advantages over Britain. We are desperate for a deal because we are leaving Europe our largest export market (45%). And America, who represents 15% of our export market, is not desperate.
We lack negotiation skills quite frankly. We have had the benefit of negotiating as part of the European club. Until now. On the other hand, America has some of the most seasoned negotiators in the world.
And of course, America has the advantage of a market five times the size of ours. Consequently, America is the more dominant player. So, let’s think about this. Is America likely to lift their standards to ours as Gove suggests (below)? Or is it that we are more apt to come down to theirs?
Britain 51st State of America
At the moment, European food regulation only permits safe processes and products. However, America allows that which has not been proved to be dangerous. But determining danger is going to be nigh on impossible. Litigants face deregulation, legal aid cuts and the power of corporate courts.
So, doing business with America is going to be bad for Britain in many ways. Not least because the government is putting our food at risk of being laced with chemicals and genetic modification. Animal welfare and sanitary systems are also in danger of being compromised. And we really don't have the power to minimise America's demands. But it doesn’t have to be that way. No deal is better than any deal at all. So tell your MP.
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