Monday, October 8, 2007

EU must ban Brazilian beef imports.

According to Farming Life "ANGER at news that the Brazilian government is seeking even more time to get its house in order on traceability has been expressed by Irish Cattle and Sheep Association beef chairman, Robin Smith.
Reports indicate that Brazilian Agriculture Minister, Reinhold Stephanes, is travelling to meet with the European Union this month to seek more time (beyond the end of the year) to conclude the implementation of their traceability system, known as Sisbov. "ICSA cannot believe that any more time can be given to the Brazilians – they are due an FVO inspection on November 5, and either they have things right or they don't. "If, after many years off broken promises on animal traceability, they still can't get it right, then it would be an outrage and highly negligent if the EU bails them out once again,'' said Mr Smith.................

The EU Commission has imposed stringent regulations on traceability for farmers within the community. This is laudable and in the interests of the consumer. Unfortunately the Commission is adopting a different approach to Brazilian Beef imports. Whilst all cattle in Europe must be individually identified from birth, retain two ear tags throughout their life and have all movements recorded on a central computer database Brazil fails to meet this requirement.

In addition the rain forests are cleared with slave labour. According to the Telegraph "In remote areas where Brazil's forest is being hacked out of the way for cattle grazing, David Ismail, a Perthshire farmer found conditions among the homeless labourers and their employers "like the worst scenes in apartheid". He said: "I was shocked when I found how the growth into Europe of Brazilian beef was causing so many problems in Brazil."

His report says that illiterate, landless labourers, housed in shacks, were deprived of medical assistance and sometimes chained to trees. The labourers, mostly from the poor north-east, are brought in to cut down the forest of central Brazil with rough tools and are unpaid, bullied, brutalised and sometimes shot. They are promised high wages, only to find that their board and rations exceed what they are paid.
The workers are described within Brazil as slaves. The Ministry of Labour's Special Anti-Slavery Enforcement Team, set up to hunt down some of the world's last true slaves, managed to release 11,946 of these individuals between 2000 and 2004...."

The EU Commission is complicit in the destruction of the rain forests-a major contributory factor to global warming. It appears to have turned a blind eye to slavery on cattle ranches in Brazil. It does not insist on the same level of traceability for Brazilian farmers as EU farmers. It stands indicted by EU consumers and farmers.

It is concerned with opening up the Brazilian market to European industrialists. As a quid pro quo European agriculture is to be sacrificed on the altar of political and commercial expediency.

Brazilian beef imports must be banned until such time as the same levels of traceability obtain in Brazil as in EU countries.

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