And they lectured us on standards! EU set to lift ban on grim farming method – leaked memo
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As a result of the shift, cheap pig protein could be fed to chickens to ensure European farmers aren’t undercut by lower standards outside the bloc. The change is expected to come into force in August despite a last-ditch attempt by MEPs, led by the Greens, to scrap the policy. An original ban on the practice was introduced during the BSE crisis but it will be lifted after plans were endorsed by all EU member states, except France and Ireland.
Using animal protein made from mammals in the feed of cattle and sheep was banned by the EU in 1994 at the height of the Made Cow Disease crisis.
The first reported case of the nightmare BSE disease was in 1986 in the UK.
It was spread widely by farmers feeding cattle with the meat and bone meal of dead and infected animals.
More than four million cattle were slaughter in the UK alone and 178 people died after contracting a human variant, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The EU extended its ban on all PAP feed in 2001 to avoid cross contamination.
In recent years there has been momentum in calls for a rethink after BSE was given “negligible risk status” across the bloc.
Bruno Melene, of the Copa-Cogeca farming union, described PAP as an “important source of phosphorus rich and highly digestible proteins” that many pig and poultry farmers were “looking forward to having access to again”.
The UK will continue to ban the use of such animal feeds because it is committed to maintaining higher animal welfare standards.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The UK is committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare and biosecurity standards, and following our departure from the EU there is no legal obligation for us to implement any of these changes.
“As an independent trading nation we have the option to review our own TSE legislation in the future and ensure that any changes made would maintain our high level of protection of human and animal health and food safety, on the basis of scientific evidence.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, use to attempt to lecture Britain about cutting food standards after leaving the bloc.
He secured a “level-playing field” provision in the treaty that allows either side to slap tariffs on exports if standards slip below the others.
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It is not yet known if the EU’s rule change will impact food exports to the UK.
The European Commission has told MEPs that there are no health risks from allowing PAP from pigs and insects to be fed to poultry.
Chicken PAP can also be fed to pigs and the use of gelatine and collagen from sheep and cattle fed to other farm animals.
Eurocrats argued the change was needed to allow EU farmers to operate at the same standards as those importing into the bloc.
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In a memo to MEPs, the Commission said: “International standards include only a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.
“The prohibition to feed all farmed animals with animal proteins cannot be imposed to imports into the EU. The proposal contributes to addressing a discrimination towards EU producers who must respect a total feed ban while those in non-EU countries only apply a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.”
The regulation was agreed in April by member states, leaving MEPs with just three months to attempt to change the rules before the come into force.
Italian MEP Pedicini, of the Greens, told the Guardian: “I personally don’t see any good human or animal health related reason to lift this ban. In this scenario it remains uncertain whether national authorities and producers could guarantee the separation of production lines and ensure accurate controls.
“Besides, the proposed measure will unfortunately not solve our dependency on soybean imports for animal feed and it does not push for a positive shift towards extensive farming. I am afraid there are only economic objectives behind it.”
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