Agriculture MEP Welcomes Brazilian Beef NGO Report

12 December 2007
SNP Member of the European parliament and Scotland's only full member of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee, Alyn Smith, has welcomed the publication of a new report into Brazilian beef, and reiterated his call for a precautionary ban on imports to the EU.

Mr Smith has led calls to ban imports of Brazilian beef on the grounds that Brazil has continued documented failure to adequately ensure traceability, there are concerns over the use of hormones and other ethical and animal welfare issues to do with the way the Brazilians farm their meat.

Mr Smith drafted with other MEPs a Written Declaration calling for an immediate precautionary ban on imports of Brazilian beef until these concerns are dealt with, and supported a petition to the European Parliament's petitions committee from the Scottish Beef Cattle Association.

The organisation Food and Water Watch Europe has now added to pressure on the European Commission to act by publishing a hard hitting report "The Beef with Brazilian Beef". The report draws on recent experience of the issue but also considers the wider ethical issues and also highlights the use of slave labour in Brazilian farms. According to the report, by the Brazilian government's own admission "slaves" are used in the plantations, and the government itself freed 11,946 such forced labourers between 2000 and 2004.

The report concludes:

"By importing mass quantities of beef from Brazil the EU is deepening the environmental catastrophe in Amazonia, perpetuating patterns of slave labour, showing a lack of concern for its own farmers and ignoring potential risks to consumers"

Mr Smith commented:

"This report pulls no punches, and is to be welcomed. Food and Water Watch Europe is a credible non governmental organisation with no axe to grind and I'm glad they have joined the debate.

"I believe the case for a precautionary ban remains a strong one and I do sense some movement on the part of the Commission. Commissioner Kyprianou has clearly taken this issue seriously but the repeated missions to Brazil by the Foreign Veterinary Office have, repeatedly, come back with concerns over Brazilian standards and we in the Parliament will keep up pressure on this issue."