Animal welfare faces ‘clear and present danger’ from post-Brexit trade deals, study warns
The UK’s high animal welfare standards face a “clear and present danger” from post-Brexit trade deals without stricter government rules, a study has warned.
Domestic agriculture will be undermined if the ‘soft’ approach to negotiations between Australia and New Zealand continues in talks with countries with ‘fewer qualms’ about quality, he argues.
Alarm bells have been raised over a hoped-for deal with India – which Boris Johnson has promised will be done in October – as he ‘has many animal rights practices banned at home’.
The government is urged to insist on ‘core standards’ that would guarantee the manufacture of a product – as well as the safety of that product – in the report of the ResPublica thinking group.
“The clear and present danger here is that the high standards the UK holds for itself will be undermined once meat and other animal products start to be shipped in droves from overseas,” said its director, Phillip Blond.
“The problem will only get worse as we engage even less scrupulous countries in exporting cheap and unethical products to the UK.”
The study is backed by both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU), both of which have criticized the agreements with Australia and New Zealand.
David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said: “We have no real assurance yet that production standards – which would place us as world leaders in animal welfare – will not be compromised on behalf of of a quick agreement.”
And Nick von Westenholz, the NFU’s director of business and commercial strategy, said future deals must go “beyond just warm words”.
“No one wants to see high quality, sustainably produced local food undermined by trade deals that don’t meet our own legal requirements for animal welfare and environmental protection,” he said. declared.
ResPublica’s report, titled “UK Trade Policy and Animal Welfare”, notes that although India prohibits the killing of animals for food without first stunning them, “in practice this rule is often ignored”.
The Independent revealed how meat from cows raised in harsh conditions banned in the UK can be imported from Australia, where cattle are transported for up to 48 hours without rest.
Journey times are more than three times the 14-hour limit in this country, a figure set to be reduced to 10.5 hours as part of post-Brexit changes.
Controversy over the deal – which will punish the farming and food sectors on the government’s own figures – intensified after a promise to give MPs the final say before approval is overturned.
Mr Johnson has set two trade deadlines for his successor, to complete the India trade deal by Diwali and join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by the end of the year.
But hopes of a deal with the United States – once seen as Brexit’s biggest prize – have faded due to lack of interest from Joe Biden and wrangling over the Northern Ireland protocol.