Mercosur Negotiations Can’t Continue in Light of Brazilian Meat Scandal

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said has said that, based on the most recent revelations regarding political and administrative corruption at the highest levels in the Brazilian meat industry and Government, it is not credible for the EU Commission to remain engaged in Mercosur negotiations on agriculture issues.

Calling on the EU Commission to suspend all negotiations on agriculture in the EU/Mercosur trade talks, Angus Woods said, “The scandal in Brazil has shown that there are systematic failures in the controls in the country and the EU Commission can no longer credibly rely on the authorities there to certify meat exports to the EU.”

Angus Woods said that by continuing to engage with Mercosur, the Commission is undermining the hard won position of European farmers and consumers based on high standards in the key areas of food safety, traceability, the environment and health standards.

The IFA livestock leader said stories being reported across the world media about bribery and corruption at the top of the Brazilian meat industry and among politicians are shocking. He said it appears that the Brazilian authorities are offering leniency deals to senior figures in the scandal who are reported as being involved in bribing hundreds of politicians and others over many years.

Angus Woods said he met with the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis in Dublin recently and reiterated the IFA’s strong views on the Brazilian meat scandal. “Since the ‘Weak Flesh scandal’ story broke in the Brazilian media on March 17th this year, the real story regarding the sheer extent and political involvement in the scandal and corruption is only beginning to emerge in Brazil.”

Angus Woods said the EU Commission FVO (Food and Veterinary Office) has undertaken a number of investigations on standards in Brazil in recent weeks and he called for these reports to be published immediately.

Angus Woods said this latest meat scandal and ongoing corruption in Brazil point to a systematic breakdown of standards and controls. Based on previous FVO reports and the work of the IFA/Irish Farmers Journal investigation in 2006/2007, the EU Commission is fully aware of the failure of the Brazil authorities to meet EU standards.

The IFA Livestock Leader said the EU Commission must withdraw from trade talks with Mercosur while this investigation into the scandal and corruption in Brazil is ongoing. “Standards and controls have to be at the centre of any trade discussions. The EU Commission cannot stand over negotiations with the Mercosur group against the backdrop of these very serious issues in Brazil.”

The latest developments also highlight the need for a strong policy on standards in the context of Brexit. He said, “In the IFA policy document on Brexit we have set out very clearly the need for equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment and the need for the application of the Common External Tariff for imports to both the EU and UK”.

The IFA Livestock leader said the real story and details behind this scandal have not fully emerged. “It is incredible that the EU Commission was only made aware of the issue through media reports. Attempts by the Brazilian authorities to try to confine the scandal to a limited number of establishments are not credible, when the reports indicate that the government inspection and control authorities were operating fraudulently and taking bribes from processors to buy certificates.”

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