The Green Party's spokesperson on animal rights Keith Taylor MEP is using World Animal Day [Thursday, 4 October] to highlight the cruelty of transatlantic agriculture, as government Ministers' continue pushing to open up UK farming to the US as part of an 'America First' post-Brexit deal with Donald Trump.
World Animal Day comes just days after a Guardian investigation revealed that death rates for female pigs in the US are rising sharply as Compassion in World Farming condemns the industrial farming practices that have seen sows 'bred to their limit'.
The celebration, which has a mission to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe, also follows news that the disgraced former Defence Secretary and current International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has vowed to scrap EU food and public health standards post-Brexit in pursuit of a TTIP-like UK-US trade deal.
EU rules currently, among other things, prohibit the sale of chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected cattle. The Trade Secretary is linked to a shadowy network of transatlantic right-wing lobby groups that have long pushed for the UK and EU to open its markets to cheaper, lower quality US agricultural products, produced to lower welfare standards.
Last month, the government also announced its plans not to abide by EU rules preventing the overmedication of farmed animals, with antibiotics vital for human health, post-Brexit.
In response, Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Public Health committee and Vice Chair of the Animal Welfare Intergroup said:
"This latest investigation is shocking, but it isn't surprising. The extremes of industrial factory farming in America require the industry to do everything it can to blind itself to the fact that farmed animals are living, breathing, feeling creatures. From pigs to cows to chickens, US welfare standards are rock bottom to non-existent. Yet, shockingly, these are the standards Liam Fox wants Britain to emulate after it 'breaks free' from EU welfare safeguards."
"The moves being made by the Secretary of State, who is backed by a shadowy cabal of right-wing US lobbyists, confirm the worst fears of animal welfare and toxic trade campaigners who were shouted down during the EU referendum for 'scaremongering'."
The senior Green politician added:
"The government is not only pushing Britain towards a disastrous 'no deal' Brexit but also a toxic bilateral, TTIP-like trade deal with Trump's America. For Liam Fox and the Brexit syndicate, leaving the EU is the perfect opportunity for a US-led chlorinated chicken coop d'etat and to hell with the public health, environment and animal welfare consequences."
"British farmers, public health, animal welfare and environmental safeguards are set to be sacrificed on the altar of a hugely unbalanced trade deal with a nation that has talked up its desire to exploit Britain's post-Brexit vulnerability."
"For decades, the food on our plates and the welfare of the animals from which it derives has been protected – albeit sometimes inadequately – by our membership of the EU. This precautionary principle protects citizens from any process, procedure, or product that carries with it a plausible risk of harm. Liam Fox wants to scrap it to make it easier to hand over power to US Corporations and "Big Food" lobbyists."
"Take, for example, pesticides; the deal would open the door to at least 82 pesticides currently permitted in the US but banned in the EU on health and environmental grounds. Among these are: permethrin, a likely carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor, and; atrazine, a herbicide thought to affect the immune system and linked to birth defects."
"Equally worrying, in the US it’s perfectly legal to 'wash' butchered chicken in strongly chlorinated water and to spray pig carcases with acid - which don't need to be labelled. These practices are banned in the EU and are thought to increase microbial contamination as dirty abattoirs with sloppy standards rely on the processes instead of ensuring their basic hygiene protocols are up to scratch."
"For animal welfare, the deal would be a disaster; US livestock welfare standards are far lower than across the EU - where animals are legally recognised as 'sentient beings' and their welfare is regarded as such. It'd also be far from a great deal for human health; persistent concerns about the potential health risks of US-style hormone-fed, intensively farmed cattle, such as increased cancer, and early puberty, ensure a general EU-wide ban remains in place - guided by precautionary principle."
"Over-medicated livestock is both bad for animals and public health. In the US, intensively reared beef cattle and dairy cows are regularly implanted with synthetic growth hormones while pigs are often treated with 'bodybuilding' drugs. At the same time, against the backdrop of a global crisis of antibiotic-resistance, 75% of medically important antibiotics in the US are given to farm animals. The government has now confirmed that post-Brexit this is a public health crisis that it wants British consumers to contribute to. Not only that, overmedicating livestock is a means by which the hugely harmful factory farming industry shortcuts the implementation of even the most basic animal welfare and biosecurity measures."
"Add to this; the lack of US restrictions on the use of animal byproducts for livestock feed, linked with outbreaks of swine fever, foot and mouth and mad cow disease in humans, and the widespread use of unlabelled genetically modified foods and additives, linked to asthma, and kidney, nervous system and gastrointestinal disorders, and we have a snapshot of a deeply damaging trade deal."
"Ultimately, though, Liam Fox's plans serve as a powerful argument for a People's Vote on the terms of any final Brexit deal. Nobody voted for chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef nor was it slapped on the side of a big red bus during the campaign."
"As Greens, we will continue to fight for a People's Vote and against a race to the bottom on environmental, consumer, food safety and animal welfare standards."