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Monday, 19th Feb 2018

Plot to ditch EU food standards threatens South West producers

Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has warned of a plot by leading rightwing Brexiteers to ditch EU food and safety standards that would allow the import of US meats, drugs and chemicals currently banned in Britain.

Revelations of the plot emerged mistakenly on the website of the Initiative for Free Trade organisation, which was founded by hard-Brexit advocate and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan. They call for Britain to recognize US standards which are weaker than those adopted by the EU and could result in chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef from the US being sold in the UK.

Dr Scott Cato, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said this confirmed her worst fears for farmers and food producers in the South West:

“For many rightwing conservatives, Brexit has always been about tearing up high EU standards on food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare, under the guise of freeing the UK from ‘red tape’. Farmers and food producers in the South West will rightly feel deeply concerned about pressure to ditch these higher standards. Any trade agreement with the US which allows for the import of food and drugs produced without these current safeguards will threaten the viability of many small-scale farmers and food producers. They simply could not compete with the mega-farms and giant corporations of the US”

“Like so many of the promises made by Brexiteers during the referendum campaign it is clear that the promise to protect farmers and high-quality food is being broken in secret talks behind closed doors. This revelation also destroys the credibility of Michael Gove's promise to ensure a 'Green Brexit'. As more evidence emerges of the risks of a Tory Brexit we continue to demand a referendum on the final deal with the option to retain all the protections that membership of the EU offers.”

Molly Scott Cato recently launched a website which identifies the Brexiteers she describes as the ‘regulation burners’. Those identified as wanting to “whittle away” EU rules and remove the “burden” on business include Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and  Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

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