A leaked briefing prepared for Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers published by Unearthed and the Financial Times today (Monday), warns that her ministry will come under “significant pressure” from the Department for International Trade (DIT) to weaken the UK’s food and environmental standards to secure a trade deal with the United States.
This comes days after Boris Johnson’s letter to Jean Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister made overtones that the UK would move away from regulatory alignment from the EU to the US, when he stated that the future relationship with the EU should “be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy.”
Tory proposals have made clear that they want to diverge from EU standards in order to pursue trade deals with other countries. Any trade deal with the US would require the UK to lower its food and environmental standards, as well as workers’ rights. A US Food and Drug Administration handbook shows that US food standards allow for:
- Rat hairs in paprika
- Rat droppings in ginger
- Insect fragments in peanut butter
- Maggots in orange juice
Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade said “A trade agreement with the USA risks opening the floodgates to food imports produced to much lower standards. “Their rules specify ‘acceptable levels’ of rat hairs in paprika, insect fragments in peanut butter, maggots in orange juice and rat droppings in ginger. The right level should be zero. Undercutting our farmers and food manufacturers like this would drive many of our producers out of business and put jobs at risk.”
“The choice the Tories are offering is: No Deal – which we know would hit the poorest in society the hardest – or this race to the bottom nightmare scenario. No Labour MP could support it and no UK consumer has an appetite for this on their dinner table.