Flood of GM crops also on its way to Europe if TTIP proponents get their way
EXCERPT: Writing on Instagram, the chef told followers he had been to see the Business Secretary ‘to tell him my massive concerns about any possibility of the UK’s and Europe’s Food standards being compromised’.
New trade deal with US will open the door to inferior food pumped with growth hormones and pesticides warns Jamie Oliver
By Sean Poulter
Daily Mail, 6 Mar 2015
* Worries GM crops and less vetted food will be forced on dinner plates
* Chef spoke to Business Secretary Vince Cable about 'massive concerns'
* US farmers often rear beef on vast factory farm feed lots rather than fields
* Laws allow them to pump animals with growth hormones
* Concerns come as UK and US negotiate a new free trade pact
Jamie Oliver has warned that a new trade deal with America will open the door to inferior food, including beef pumped up with growth hormones, banned additives and pesticides.
There are also concerns that GM crops and food produced in the USA, which have not been through more strict vetting procedures in Europe, could be forced on to dinner plates.
The campaigner and chef held talks this week with Business Secretary Vince Cable to outline his ‘massive concerns’ that the deal could seriously undermine British food and farming.
The EU and the US government are negotiating a new free trade pact – known as TTIP – which will lift barriers to trade in key sectors of the economy across the Atlantic.
The deal will make it easier for companies on both sides of the Atlantic to access each other’s markets, affecting pharmaceuticals, cars, energy, finance, chemicals, clothing, food and drink.
However critics like the chef fear it will expose British families to inferior food and drink which does not meet the higher health and welfare standards that exist in this country and Europe.
For example, US farmers are allowed to pump up beef cattle, which are raised on vast factory farm feed lots rather than in fields, with growth hormones. Similarly, they are allowed to boost milk production with hormone injections.
Currently, these are banned in Europe on the basis of health concerns for consumers.
Britain has effectively banned the use of certain artificial colours from food for children because of an association with hyperactivity, however these are not banned in the US.
American farmers can also use pesticides that have been banned in this country as a health risk.
However, all these protections could be swept away, according to Jamie and other critics of the TTIP proposals – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – which is the biggest free trade deal in history.
Writing on Instagram, the chef told followers he had been to see the Business Secretary ‘to tell him my massive concerns about any possibility of the UK’s and Europe’s Food standards being compromised’.
He said: ‘We have fought long and hard to get where we are today and I really don’t want feed lot beef with growth hormones, nor chickens washed with chlorine or food produced with banned pesticides and additives, to name but a few, and I certainly don’t want our farmers undermined.’
Mr Cable and his officials reassured Jamie that his fears are unfounded, but he went on to say: ‘Food is still on the negotiating table and that does mean technically anything can still happen.
‘I’m glad they are aware of my concerns, but we must keep watching this space very very carefully.’
The British Government is one of the driving forces in the EU to get the new free trade deal approved. It claims TTIP could add £10billion to the UK economy, £80billion to the US and £100bn to the EU every year.
It says shoppers would benefit by the removal of EU import tariffs on popular goods, such as jeans and cars.
It’s also claimed that reducing regulation would help UK businesses export to the US, with small businesses in particular predicted to benefit.
Importantly, it says restrictive markets would be opened up. For example, this might mean that a current block on exports of British lamb and venison to the US could be lifted.
David Cameron has promised to put ‘rocket boosters’ behind talks to secure the deal, saying TTIP is central to his vision of a reformed competitive Europe. It is also supported by the Liberal Democrats.
Labour, Ukip and the SNP broadly support the pact, as long as caveats are included to ensure protection for the NHS from private American corporations demanding they are allowed to tender for public health services.
Plaid Cymru is more sceptical and the Green Party is strongly opposed.
Once the deal is signed, US companies will be able to take governments in Britain and Europe to court if they feel their products are being unfairly kept out, which could involve huge financial penalties and compensation.
The CBI business organisation is a major supporter of TTIP. Its director general, John Cridland, said: ‘This deal is vital for future growth and the prosperity for citizens across the EU. And could create thousands of new opportunities for our young people.
‘It would create an integrated market of over 800 million people, bringing more choices for consumers at cheaper prices. And with the UK already trading more and investing more with the US than any other country, there are real advantages to drive home particularly for smaller firms.’
However, Adrian Bebb, senior Food Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: ‘This trade agreement is a Trojan horse that promises jobs but will threaten our food safety, environment and farmers. This would mean more GM foods, pollution and factory farms – and less choice for citizens. The only winners will be the corporations that push industrially produced foods.’
A BIS spokesman said: ‘The British Government and European Commission have both been clear that food safety standards are not up for negotiation in TTIP and the high standards we enjoy in the UK will never be compromised. Removing unnecessary barriers to trade will benefit British exporters and consumers, and all food imports will continue to be subject to EU safety requirements.’
AMERICAN FOOD THAT MIGHT ARRIVE ON DINNER PLATES
Beef: Most US beef cattle are fed with synthetic growth hormones to pump them up, boosting muscle. Beef from these animals was banned in Europe, including Britain, in 1989 amid concerns the residues were a cancer risk – particularly breast cancer - in humans
Dairy: Cows in the US are routinely given the synthetic hormone bovine somatotrophin, which dramatically boost milk production. There are raised levels of the hormone in the resulting milk. Milk and dairy products from the US were banned in the UK and Europe in 2000 because of concerns of a cancer risk to humans and evidence of harm to the cows.
Chicken: Farmers in the US are allowed to feed antibiotics to chicken to speed up growth. This practice was banned in Britain and Europe in 2006 amid concerns it was leading to the emergence of superbug versions of dangerous infections, such as campylobacter and salmonella. Producers in the US wash chicken carcasses in a chlorine and water solution to kill bugs. This was banned in Britain and Europe in the 1990s because of concerns the residues were a cancer risk.
Additives: Artificial colours - Tartrazine (E102); Quinoline yellow (E104); Sunset yellow (E110); Carmoisine (E122); Ponceau 4R (E124); Allura red (E129) – have been removed from virtually all foods/sweets/drinks aimed at children in the UK on the advice of the Food Standards Agency. This is based on concerns they are linked to hyperactivity and changes in behaviour.There are no such controls in the USA where these additives are commonly used in processed food, including breakfast cereals.
Pesticides: 82 pesticides that are banned in the UK and Europe are allowed on US farms. These include Atrazine, which was banned here in 2003 because of evidence it was contaminating water supplies and can disrupt the human hormone system. It is still used intensively in the US or corn, sugar cane and many other crops. The US also allows the use of neonicotinoids. Two of these have been banned in Europe because they harm bees.
GM: Many GM crops such as maize or corn and soya are grown on an industrial scale in the USA and appear in thousands of processed food products - everything from snacks to fast food, breakfast cereal, cooking oils and chocolate. These crops have not been subjected to the more rigorous safety assessments that apply in the UK and Europe.