Don’t allow US hormones and pesticides into our food, Oliver warns

Jamie Oliver has warned that a controversial trade deal between the EU and US could open the door to food imports containing growth hormones and banned pesticides.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement is being presented by big business as a way to remove trade barriers and make business easier. But others warn that its real aim is to dismantle food safety regulations that corporations see as an impediment to profit-making.

This week the chef and food campaigner stepped into the debate, warning that the TTIP deal had “the capacity to be very negative to British companies and British farmers”.

Oliver said: “Europe has the highest standards of farming and banning of certain chemicals in sprays and this, that and the other. America does sell its wares to us, but to our standards, but this arrangement would be free rein.

“We don’t have hormones in our meat, that’s banned. But not over there. We don’t have hundreds of poisons and pesticides that have been proven to be carcinogenic. They do. Their laws, their set-up, their safety regulations are nowhere near ours.”

Oliver said he wanted to find a way of publicizing the serious threat posed by the TTIP, but he admitted it might be an uphill struggle.

“It probably sounds really boring, but it’s possibly one of the most dangerous agreements. I haven’t really talked about it with anyone yet because I’m still kind of getting my ducks in a row and trying to find out where the truth is, who are the experts in this country and who is managing the conversation on behalf of Britain for Europe.”

Backing Oliver’s latest campaign, the Soil Association’s policy director Peter Melchett commented: “Rather than erode Europe’s higher food safety standards, US and EU citizens would benefit from this trade deal adopting the highest safety, animal welfare and environmental standards. The problem is that the big players in the food and agricultural industry are using this deal to attack safety standards, and Europe’s use of the precautionary principle. Central to the robustness of our food safety systems, this scientific approach prevents the use of industry favoured practices, used in the US, such as the feeding of livestock with hormones to make them grow faster. In our rush to try and increase exports we mustn’t be fooled into accepting only ‘industry friendly’ science as a basis for decisions on food safety.”