“Allowing our trade deal with Australia, a laggard on climate and nature, to be a blueprint for future trade deals would be a backward step for the environment.”
The newly signed UK-Australia trade deal is going to have huge implications on the environment, undermine work done by UK farmers, and lower animal welfare standards, conservation groups warn.
According to the Australian British Chamber of Commerce’s report, the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal will remove more than £5bn of tariffs and boost access to workers and capital between both countries.
However, the UK’s farming sector has raised objections saying that Australia could flood the local market with cheap meat and destroy the livelihoods of livestock producers.
According to a report by a coalition of organisations, the zero-quota, zero-tariff deal signed with Australia will increase UK farmers’ exposure to “unfair competition with outdated, cruel, and unsustainable farming practices the UK has already moved away from”.
The alliance comprises groups, including WWF, Compassion in World Farming, Greener UK, RSPCA, and a few more.
The campaigners argue that the deal contains “no safeguards” for environmental protections or animal welfare, and “weakens existing safeguards” on food safety.
As per current legislation, UK farmers are legally required to meet minimum animal welfare standards to make sure that farmed animals enjoy some, albeit limited, protections.
Whilst British farmers must abide by these standards, Australian farmers will not have to, allowing them to sell low welfare meat to UK consumers.
Animal welfare issues
Non-profit organisation World Animal Protection lists the reasons this trade could derail UK’s animal welfare standards and hurt the local farming community.
- Australian farmers will be able to produce cheaper meat than their British counterparts because of the prevailing lower welfare standards in Australia. Consequently, British farmers will be unable to compete on price and this will lead to an increase in the demand for cheaper and poor-welfare Australian meat.
- By approving the deal, the government will be disregarding the UK’s world-class animal protection protocols and instead will be outsourcing the cruel practices banned in the UK to Australia.
- The Australia deal could set a precedent for future trade deals and lead to the suffering of even more animals.
Tanya Steele is the chief executive at WWF. She told the Independent: “With the right policies in place, UK trade could incentivise best-in-class, sustainable food production at home and abroad. By contrast, allowing our trade deal with Australia, a laggard on climate and nature, to be a blueprint for future trade deals would be a backward step for the environment.
“When we do our weekly shop, we shouldn’t be presented with products that have contributed to destroying the environment and driving up global temperatures.”
She added: “The UK could raise the bar now by setting national core standards, including environmental standards, for all foods sold here. Setting those standards would also show that the UK government is serious about delivering on its climate and nature promises.”
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