CONSERVATIVE MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has described as ‘utter folly’ a decision by the European Commission to allow farmers to feed animal-based protein again.
European producers will now be able to raise poultry and livestock using processed animal remains as a way of reducing their costs.
The measure has been approved as a response to the undercutting of EU farmers by produce from countries where lower standards apply.
But Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said the move was a retrograde step which would horrify farmers here.
The use of animal protein in feed was banned in the EU in 1994 in the wake of the UK’s BSE disaster – caused by cattle being fed improperly-rendered remains of sheep infected with the brain disease scrapie.
Nearly 180 people died from the human form of the disease after eating infected beef, four million cattle were slaughtered, and British beef was stigmatised around the world.
But despite opposition from Green Party MEPs and others the EU has now ruled there is no health risk from allowing pig protein to be fed to poultry, chicken protein being given to pigs, or other farmed animals being fed gelatine and collagen from sheep and cattle.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “Given the devastation we saw resulting from BSE I regard it as utter folly to allow farmers to feed animals with the remains of other animals.
“I am sure the Commission has been given all the scientific advice to be confident that the process is entirely safe and that all the checks and balances are in place to prevent any mishap.
“But as we saw with BSE even a minor reduction in production standards can have catastrophic consequences.
“I note pig farmers here are already talking about the opportunities this offers for reducing reliance on soya imports but given the painful lessons we learned from BSE I would urge the Government not to follow Europe’s example.
“Personally I should not be happy eating meat from animals I know to have been raised by eating other animals, and as far as competitiveness is concerned I believe ongoing research into production efficiency has the potential for delivering many more benefits to UK producers without the need to resurrect practices which delivered one of the darkest chapters in British farming history.”