Liam Fox is due to give a speech today in which he will reportedly say that it is 'anti-trade' and a 'myth' to point out that future trade deals we sign after Brexit could result in a 'degradation of food and environmental standards'. He says this is a false claim and even says it is a 'deception'.
Although some quotes from the speech has been briefed to journalists overnight and tweeted out by the Department for International Trade, there is no news on who Liam Fox is speaking to, when or what about.
Picking up on his comments about food standards, Chief Executive of Sustain Kath Dalmeny said:
“Liam Fox seems to have forgotten that the US Commerce Secretary flew to London in November 2017 to tell the UK in person that we will need to lower our food standards in exchange for a trade deal with America. It is alarming that our own chief negotiator appears to have such a short memory.
“It is not a ‘false claim’, nor an ‘irresponsible myth’ to flag the low animal welfare in American farming, nor the fact that their food poisoning rates are seven times ours, nor that sugary, processed junk food is amongst their top exports. Neither is it a ‘deception’ to remind him that the Australian meat industry is already eyeing up our market for their own hormone treated beef, currently banned in the UK.
“Our new trade deals could be a force for good, but not if we have to trade away our safety, our health or our animal welfare standards in exchange.”
US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, flew to London to speak to the Confederation of British Industry in November 2017. The CBI posted a blog about his speech which you can read in full here.
In it, he mentions the "limited role of science in assessing risk, especially in sanitary matters" as a hindrance to US business exporting to the EU and advises us to drop this policy. This is a reference to the EU's historic refusal to accept chlorine-treated chicken and hormone-treated beef from the US. The US argues it is unscientific to refuse to accept them as they don't impact on human health. The EU's position is that while it accepts there are no safety concerns with eating chlorine-treated chicken it believes these farming techniques mask low hygiene standards, which it won't accept.
Sustain is also concerned that the use of chlorine washes, growth hormones and antibiotics are also masking low animal welfare.
Brexit: We stand at a cross-roads. When the UK leaves the European Union, will our leaders uphold good standards for our food, farming, fishing and trade deals? And will they agree a sensible deal with the EU? We need to make sure that they do!
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