Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't Look Under The Rug

The Irish Farmers Association has gotten itself into trouble with the EU Health Commission. Looking under the rug in Brazil, those farmers, and showing everyone how much unhealthy dust was hidden there, to the consternation of Markos Kyprianou.

If one were a beef producer in Ireland, one would be most interested in dishing the dirt on one's competitors, such as beef exporters in Brazil who can dump their meat on the market dirt cheap. The IFA did their own investigation of beef production practices in Brazil, to show that the exported product was shite on a stick, but that's the purview of the EU and get your Irish noses out of the EU's business, said the EU.

Health Commissioner Kyprianou's spokesperson does not believe that the IFA visited farms that are part of the EU export system, so the IFA could not of course have anything to add to the current assessment of Brazil's application to export beef to the EU. Looking in the wrong places, it would seem, and please don't imagine that the unacceptable beef would ever get into the export system.

What did the IFA find on its grand tour of Brazilian beef producing facilities? Enough for the association to recommend that Brazilian beef be banned from Europe. According to the report, they uncovered a lack of controls in place to trace cattle. That gets to be of critical importance when a case of BSE appears and all animals exposed to the deadly disease must be culled. Every head of cattle is tagged where good records are kept, but such was not the case in Brazil. There was no apparent control over cattle being trucked in from neighboring countries, so that steers speaking Spanish could be mixed in with their Portuguese-speaking brethren and then the Europeans really wouldn't know what they were getting in their Irish stew. To cap it all, the IFA discovered that growth promoting hormones banned in the EU are used in Brazil.

So the EU would like the Irish farmers to butt out, but in the meantime, the Health Commission has a few glitches to iron out with Brazil. They are aware of delays in implementing certain practices that are required of all exporters, and they are not pleased that the cattle tagging program has yet to be fully implemented. But how dare the Irish go and find even more problems.

The IFA is supporting their own, of course, but they have brought up an important point. If you don't know where your meat came from, can you really be sure that it's safe to eat? Do you trust some EU commission, when they're either hiding things from the public, or unaware of the nasty things that have been swept under the rug while Brazil did a bit of cursory housekeeping.

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