Now We All Know What We Must Do; A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND FARMER ADDS HIS INFLUENTIAL VOICE TO THE DAILY MAIL CAMPAIGN
Byline: FREDERICK FORSYTH
THE sickening news that the French - and apparently the Germans and others in Europe - have been using human excrement sludge to 'bulk out' the feed they pump into their cattle before selling the meat to us has raised a sharp intake of breath.
No animals should be subjected to such indignity, and no humans should be expected to eat food produced in such a perverse and potentially dangerous manner.
But for those who farm, as I do, or who slaughter and process meat for the British table - there are many of us facing bankruptcy for our pains - this latest in a series of 'revelations' about Continental farming methods excites a weary: 'So what?' It is hardly news that the Continental farmers, with the tacit blessing of their governments, ignore health and safety standards which our Ministry of Agriculture enforces with such determination.
What this 'revelation' tells us is that you, the food-buying public, are buying meat made cheap by being raised in conditions of great cruelty, fed with garbage and slaughtered with less hygiene than we British insist on.
The British meat producer, whether of beef, milk, lamb, pork or poultry, is not being driven out of business because he is lazy, or stupid, or inefficient. He is being bankrupted simply because he cannot be price-competitive while subject to the strict canon of rules imposed by the European Union - rules which his Euro-competitors glibly ignore.
It would be wrong to say that we in Britain have impeccable credentials where animal welfare is concerned. The truth is that an overwhelming desire for cheap food and for a diet biased heavily in favour of meat has driven farmers across the European Union into ever more cruel and unnatural practices. That is why plagues such as salmonella, E-coli and BSE threaten us today.
What can you expect when some animals are crammed together in tiny pens or batteries under conditions which drive them insane, and also render them vulnerable to diseases?
Threat What can you expect when we breed cows which can hardly stand on their own but which can produce 2,000 gallons of milk in a year - eight times the natural yield of a wild cow?
We pump animals full of antibiotics to ward off bacteria or promote growth. Then the bacteria mutate and throw up strains resistant to antibiotics.
No wonder scientists suggest that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria farmers are unwittingly raising are potentially a greater threat than BSE.
But the point is that we British producers still take welfare far more seriously than most farmers across the rest of Europe.
You like a rasher with your breakfast? A pork chop? The chances are you are buying Danish or Dutch. They are allowed to raise pigs in crates and/or tethers.
That's like raising a child from infancy to maturity in a darkened phone booth with a hole to stick its head out for food. British pigs must have large, straw-floored pens or fields to roam, with shelters - because our Government unilaterally introduced welfare rules which it hoped the EU would follow. Of course, it hasn't.
It is the same at the slaughtering end. We have massive hygiene costs, but our competitors supposed to be subject to the same laws - do more or less what they want.
Under an EU rule, food imported from any source into any EU country can, once it touches the dock, be named as produce of the importing country and can be moved penalty-free right across the EU.
Moreover, EU countries are not forbidden to have bilateral arrangements with Third World countries. So? So the Germans and French import millions of dead Chinese chickens, mark them up as 'produce of Germany' or 'Poulet de France' and sell them to us.
Why do we not do the same and cut out the French and the Germans? …