Thanks to campaigning from well-known animal charities such as the RSPCA, tens of thousands of people ended up signing a petition intended to stop lower animal welfare imports from entering the UK.
And now the House of Lords has voted to add a new section into the Agriculture Bill which says that the UK Government must not sign trade agreements which undermine our strict animal welfare standards by allowing lower welfare products into the UK.
Animal welfare charities are now hoping that when the Bill is passed back to the House of Commons that MPs will now keep the section.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said:
‘Despite the Government repeatedly saying that this is their position too, they’ll ask MPs to vote against this. We must keep the Bill as it stands”.
Most of the news coverage relating to the Bill has focused on the imports of heavily chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef cattle.
Various campaign groups have said that there is not enough evidence to prove that ingesting meats which have been washed with chlorine and which have been injected with artificial hormones does not adversely affect the human body.
And now the RSPCA has pointed out that what is also of significant concern, is the farming systems which these animals are raised and slaughtered in.
Countries such as the US have far lower standards than the UK and have lower welfare systems that are actually banned in the UK.
These include barren battery cages for hens and sow stalls for pigs which severely compromise animal welfare standards.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA added:
“It’s vital that the UK government safeguards our animal welfare standards in future trade deals, we cannot risk lower welfare, cheaper-to-produce products entering the UK market.
“This could mean a race to the bottom for animal welfare and undercutting farmers in the UK at a time when we should be striving for properly funded, higher animal welfare practices which go beyond legal requirements.
“And, it’s not just about the USA, many other countries we’ll be negotiating with will have lower standards than the UK too”.