Brexit between the lines: plot to ditch EU safety standards on food and drugs

20.02.2018 - London UK - Silvia Swinden

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Brexit between the lines: plot to ditch EU safety standards on food and drugs
The UK/Republic of Ireland border at Killeen marked only by a speed sign marked in km/h (Image by Oliver Dixon Wikimedia Commons)

A document uncovered by Greenpeace’s investigative unit (published accidentally by the Initiative for Free Trade) has revealed “a drive to lobby ministers to ditch strict EU safety standards in order to secure a US trade deal is being drawn up by a transatlantic group of conservative thinktanks”.

The report according to the Guardian involved right wing conservative groups such as “the Heritage Foundation, which has pushed for the lifting of environmental protections, and the Cato Institute, co-founded by billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch. In Britain the project is being overseen by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), an organisation founded by the hard-Brexit advocate and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.”…”Such a move would allow imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef to be sold in the UK for the first time.” It has also become known that the US use far more antibiotics in farming and imports of such animals may contribute to antibiotic resistance, a huge problem already.

It would also imply abandoning the EU “precautionary principle” that means testing properly new products before allowing them into the market in favour of the looser American model of earlier approval in the process and intervening only if problems arise. This leads to cheaper but lower quality products and standards.

It is no coincidence that many of the strong “hard” Brexit supporters have their eye on the profits to be made out of US-UK trade deals depicting the Brussels bureaucracy as an unfair constrain, when in reality in many areas it is a source of safety standards, in food, medicines, environmental protection and working practices.

The threat to British farming businesses which ‘could be wiped out after Brexit transition’ has already been highlighted, with its resulting increase in food prices. At present British farmers receive £3bn from the EU in subsidies that would of course stop after Brexit.

The National Health Service is haemorrhaging European workers uncertain about their position after Brexit (and fearful of the growing nationalist bigotry) at the same time that the (absence of) border between Northen Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the great success of the European guaranteed Friday Agreement which did so much to largely eliminate the violence in the conflict, is being discussed in search for a creative solution to prevent a return to the clashes of the past as being out of the EU will establish a hard border between North and South with immigration and customs controls, but for the time being none has been found. It does not help that the Conservative Government depends now on a group of ten Northern Irish MPs, the DUP, to have a tiny, and very conditional on having their way, majority in the Commons.

What is emerging more and more clearly is the human cost of Brexit for the sake of profit.



Categories: Economics, Europe, Human Rights
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