Island must be protected from 'Back Door Brazilian Beef' – MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus warns of consequences to public health.

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus has highlighted the risk of Brazilian beef entering the island through the Belfast port.

MacManus called for vigilance and thorough checks at the port, commenting: “The British Government and Brazil have signed a new memorandum of understanding, which is widely speculated to be setting the scene for an influx of cheap Brazilian beef to the British market. We have been aware of Britain’s desire to pursue a cheap food policy, supplied by vast quantities of imported beef for some time.”

In order to ensure suppliers like Brazil have access, MacManus claims that Britain intends to move away from the EU golden principle of suppliers first proving the food is safe for consumers, “to a model where the onus would fall on government to prove the food is unsafe, before it is banned.”

MacManus warned of consequences to public health.

The Midlands Northwest MEP said there are many concerns for Ireland too.

“For Ireland, the risks posed by the agreement are two-fold, firstly, although we have spent four years trying to move our exports away from the British market, at least 40% of our beef is still destined for British supermarket shelves. Competing in that market when huge quantities of cheap beef lands will be incredibly difficult for Irish farmers.”

He though explained that due to the north of Ireland’s unique status as a result of the withdrawal agreement, when Britain lowers its quality standards for imports, any food which is not compliant with EU standards will not be permitted to enter the six counties.

“Thankfully, we have this legal protection through the protocol, but nonetheless, on the ground, the system will depend on thorough inspection of all meat entering through Belfast port. The impact of some product slipping through the net and entering not only the north but across the border to shelves on the rest of our island would be disastrous for our farmers, resulting in a depression in the per kilo prices they can expect to receive.”

MacManus concluded by saying: “It makes little sense to have fought the Mercosur agreement for years, to then see the same outcome through the backdoor. This is a situation I will be monitoring closely, Sinn Féin is determined to see respect for both the Good Friday Agreement and the northern Irish protocol in all of their parts.”

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