In the US, 88% of corn, 93% of soy, 94% of cotton, 54% of sugar beets, 75% of papaya is GM
EXCERPT: Honor Eldridge, Policy Officer at the Soil Association, said... "If the UK Government is to achieve its goal of improving and strengthening our food standards, future trade agreements must reflect these commitments. To this end, any future trade negotiations must be conducted transparently and with input from public stakeholders."
Farming charity releases top ten food safety concerns posed by US-UK trade deal
A charity which promotes environmentally friendly farming has listed its top ten food safety concerns if a UK-US trade deal is struck.
In preparation for the second reading of the Trade Bill in the House of Commons, the Soil Association has released a report on the potential food safety risks posed by a free trade deal with the US.
Some of the key differences between UK and US production – hormone-treated beef, GM crops and chlorinated chicken – are becoming increasingly understood by British consumers.
Indeed, a senior business representative to President Donald Trump has previously warned that the British public may have to accept chlorinated chicken as part of any trade deal between the UK and the US.
However, a number of ministers, including Defra Secretary Michael Gove, have frequently insisted that the UK government will seek to maintain farming standards in any negotiations.
The Soil Association's report also highlights a number of other areas where products imported from the US could be produced under significantly different standards to British standards.
It uses the examples the inclusion of food colourants that have been withdrawn from the UK, the use of the herbicide Atrazine that has previously been linked with human health risks, and the sale of chicken litter as animal feed which was banned by the EU in 2001.
High food standards
Honor Eldridge, Policy Officer at the Soil Association, said British farming has a reputation for high food safety and high animal welfare.
"It is imperative that any future trade deal does not result in a dilution of these standards for consumers. Nor should any deal competitively disadvantage UK farmers," Ms Eldridge explained.
"We welcome Michael Gove’s assertion that the UK should not race to the bottom in competing with cheap imports, as well as his commitment to supporting environmentally-friendly farming practice.
"If the UK Government is to achieve its goal of improving and strengthening our food standards, future trade agreements must reflect these commitments. To this end, any future trade negotiations must be conducted transparently and with input from public stakeholders."
The report follows news of US agricultural trade chief Ted McKinney urging delegates at the Oxford Farming Conference to stop the knee-jerk response to US-UK trade.
"We will hold our food safety, environment and welfare standards up against the UK any day of the week and twice on Sunday," Mr McKinney told delegates.
"Let's just get that out of the way. We do hope that your consumers have at least the opportunity - we're not going to force feed anyone - at least have the opportunity to invest in an American turkey or chicken or any other piece of protein that might be of their choosing."
Ted McKinney, who is from a farming family in Indiana, said it was for the UK to decide which course it wanted to take, although he said there was a great opportunity for increased trade between the two countries.
"The UK will never have an opportunity again, at least not in the near future - probably not in a generation - like you have now to get right whatever right means to you. Ideas of regulations, environmental care, animal welfare, opportunities to export."
"Top ten food safety risks"
The report lists the top ten food safety risks the Soil Association thinks a US-UK trade deal poses, all of which are currently banned in the EU and/or the UK.
1. Chlorine washed chicken
Instead of preventing infection in chickens across all stages of rearing and slaughter, the American poultry industry has resorted to chemicals to eliminate bacteria at the end of the meat production chain.
Essentially, chemical washes hope to make up for inadequate hygiene on farms and abattoirs. In contrast, the EU has chosen another approach to fighting meat-borne bacteria through their landmark ‘farm to fork’ approach which requires steps throughout the production chain to ensure food is safe.
2. Hormone-treated beef
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a number of steroid hormone drugs for use in beef cattle and sheep, including natural oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and their synthetic versions. These drugs increase the animals’ growth rate and the efficiency by which they build muscle.
3. Ractopamine in pork
In the US, an estimated 60-80 percent of pigs are fed the beta agonist drug, ractopamine prior to slaughter to increase protein synthesis, which results in increased muscle fibre size, weight gain, improve feed efficiency, and increase carcass leanness in swine.
According to the report, ractopamine has been found to cause the animal serious disability, including trembling, broken limbs and an inability to walk.
4. Chicken litter as animal feed
In the US, chicken litter (a rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, feathers and spilled feed) is marketed as a cheap feed product, particularly for cows. In the US, the use of poultry litter in cow feed is unrestricted.
5. Atrazine-treated crops
Atrazine is estimated to be the second most heavily used herbicide in the U.S. with 73.7 million pounds of the chemical compound applied in the United States in 2013. It was used on more than half of all corn crops and up to 90 percent of sugar cane.
Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor and reduces immune function in both wildlife and laboratory rodents. The chemical has also been found to possibly induce breast and prostate cancer in lab animals.
6. GE foods
In the US, 88% of corn, 93% of soy, 94% of cotton, 54% of sugar beets, 75% of papaya is genetically modified. There are also biotech products created through gene editing technology such as the non-browning Ar[c]tic Apple.
7. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)
This synthetic additive is used in citrus drinks to keep flavour evenly distributed. However, BVO is also used as a flame retardant. Public health concerns have been raised since chemically similar flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, fertility, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.
8. Potassium bromate
Potassium Bromate is approved by the FDA to improve the gluten content in baked goods to strengthen dough and promote rising. It has been found to be a possible carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is used as a whitening or bleaching agent for cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in baking. During baking, ADA breaks down to form a number of different chemicals. One of these chemicals is semicarbizide (SEM) that has been found to increase the incidence of tumours in lab rats.
10. Food colourants
In the US, the public can purchase and consume products that include Yellow 5 and 6, Red 3 and 40, Blue 1 and 2, Green 3, and Orange B.