Saturday, 2 March 2019

Cheap and Nasty?


The US Ambassador to the UK has apparently suggested that, to get a good trade deal, we should 'embrace' American agricultural practices (and the cheap food it generates) rather than the 'museum-like' activities of the EU (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/01/britain-should-embrace-us-farming-methods-agree-trade-deal-says/). He suggests, for example, that there is nothing wrong with chlorine-washed chicken as it kills Salmonella bacteria (and Europeans wash fruit with chlorinated water). The main point about EU objections to the process is that the US chicken wash is used in place of imposing welfare standards (the birds are crowded, dirty and often treated with antibiotics, so the wash is needed to deal with contaminating bacteria). Many other US agricultural practices e.g. indoor mega-farms and the use of antibiotics (with their potential for generating resistant bacterial populations) also seem to play fast and loose with safety in pursuit of profits. One thing is certain and that is that much of UK agriculture would find it very hard to compete against cheap US food imports. It is very much a different culture.

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