Union Attacks Commission Over Mercosur Talks

NFU Scotland has cranked up its opposition to ongoing trade talks between Europe and Mercosur.   In its latest letter to the European Trade Commissioner, the Union laid out five areas around animal health, human health and food safety where guarantees must be secured before any additional access for imported products from these countries is agreed.

Without such guarantees, consumer confidence in food production could be undermined, the EU’s animal disease status challenged and Europe’s reputation for food production and food safety damaged.

NFU Scotland Vice-President, Nigel Miller said:

“The prospect of a Mercosur deal increasing the EU trade for goods and services as a consequence of a bilateral trade agreement is laudable and increasingly likely, but jeopardising the EU’s ability to produce food or undermining our food security by exposing us to new risks is too high a price to pay.  

“Having gone to enormous lengths to enshrine stringent animal disease and food safety controls within Europe, we cannot allow produce to enter our region from countries whose own safeguards are clearly not robust.   That would not only have implications for our own standards on animal health and welfare but also poses huge question marks over food safety for our consumers here in Europe.

“Europe needs to draw a number of red lines on standards that must be met or we risk allowing products to enter Europe with unacceptable levels of controls.  We have clearly laid out to Trade Commissioner de Gucht five critical areas that must be addressed to the satisfaction of Europe’s farmers before any trade deal is agreed.

“Basic food control measures must be found to be satisfactory – this is an area where failures have been recorded in the past – and use of veterinary medicines, veterinary supervision and withdrawal periods must match those standards demanded of livestock producers here in Europe. 

“A number of growth promoters and veterinary drugs not approved for use in Europe are also regularly used in Mercosur countries and produce from animals treated with such products should not have access to our markets.  Our consumers would expect no less.

“Trade negotiators must also recognise the considerable efforts being made in Europe to tackle the microbial quality of food, to reduce food-borne illness, and work with industry and veterinarians to significantly reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.  All that good work in reducing risk to animal and human populations would mean little if import standards did not protect this effort.”  

Notes to editors

In a letter to the European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, NFU Scotland said the critical issues that must be addressed should any Mercosur deal be considered are:

  1. Animal Health/Sanitary standards – FVO Reports have highlighted deficiencies in basic control measures within Mercosur such as satisfactory pH testing of meat exports.   Adequate pH monitoring should be mandatory. Where failures occur, the imports should be immediately halted.
  2. Animal Medicines – Withdrawal periods are critical to the protecting of public health and delivering high product quality.   Withdrawal periods and protocols must match European standards.   Traceability must be visible to ensure that these standards are being met.   Sufficient testing should be conducted to ensure that protocols are being met.  It is also apparent that a significant number of growth promoters and veterinary drugs not licensed for use in Europe are widely used in these countries.  Accepting produce from animals treated with such products should also be unacceptable.
  3. Microbial quality – This is a key issue for both the red and white meat sectors in order to minimise food borne illnesses.   Initiatives across the European food production chain are reducing microbial risk.   Imported products should match these standards and be underpinned by monitoring systems.
  4. Antimicrobial resistance – This is an escalating problem and one that is critical to human health.   Antimicrobial resistance is being countered in Europe with controls and targeting of antimicrobials being delivered at farm level through qualified veterinarians.   Similar standards of control and prescribing should be demanded from exporting countries if risks to both human and animal populations are to be minimised.
  5. Animal Welfare – High standards are demanded and rigorously enforced across Europe by legislation.   Food from production systems that are no longer legal in the EU should not be imported.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006



Date Published:

News Article No.: 154/10

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