Identical Standards For Imports Now, Demands MEP

28 April 2011

Scottish MEP Alyn Smith, full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has today (Thursday) reiterated his long-standing call that produce imported into the EU markets should be subject to the same standards as farmers within the EU are expected to operate to.

Mr Smith's comments come in the wake of a report commissioned by Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s federal veterinary and phytosanitary service, which highlighted systemic deficiencies in Brazil's food safety regime. Thirteen of the twenty-nine meat plants checked by Rosselkhoznadzor have had export bans imposed on them in response to inspections carried out earlier this month.

The European Commission have similarly conducted inspections and are due to issue a report in the next few days. Smith hopes that there will be an immediate reaction to what appear to be blatant and serious flaws in basic food safety procedures in the country.

Smith said:

"I think the European Commission has been over-generous with Brazil in recent years: it took far too long for the Commission to react with a ban on beef imports from the country last time we were faced with evidence like this.

"The report by Rosselkhoznadzor has exposed serious flaws in Brazil's meat export system and I would be very surprised if the Commission's own report, due to be released in a few days time, does not show similar deficiencies. If it does then I expect to see an immediate reaction from the Commission. They would not allow this within the EU and I do not expect them to allow it from outwith the EU.

"We are repeatedly told by the Commission that they seek "equivalent standards" over issues like animal health and traceability. This is not good enough. There is a world of difference between "equivalent" and "identical", and what is good for our producers must be good enough for third countries too; after all, nobody is forcing them to import to our territory.  

"The EU market should stay shut to Brazilian imports until they can prove they meet our standards."