Cheap, Inhumane, Bacon – The Reason To Ban It Is Because People Will Buy It

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We’ve a claim that if we were, post-Brexit, to sign a free trade deal with the United States then our green and pleasant land, our Albion, will be flooded with cheap and inhumanely produced bacon. This could well be true, who knows? It’s the what we do about it which matters, the answer being, quite obviously, that we go ahead and sign the trade deal and get the flood of cheap and inhumanely produced bacon.

The conclusion we’re supposed to draw is that we shouldn’t, the conclusion we should is that we should:

The US meat lobby is “salivating” at the prospect of flooding the UK with bacon and pork produced using practices that are currently illegal in the UK, a top food expert has warned.

Gestation crates and the chemical growth hormone ractopamine – both banned in the UK – are regularly used in the US pig industry, which achieves the lowest costs of production in the world. Any future trade deal which includes accepting US pork could potentially have a disastrous impact on the UK’s pig industry as well as diluting our welfare standards, say both industry and campaigners.

Speaking to the Guardian, Prof Tim Lang, from City University, said the British public needed to “wake up” to the dangers of animal welfare being rolled back as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

“[The US] secretary of state for commerce has already made it clear EU standards must go if the UK wants trade deals. Did voters really want leaving the EU to mean taking us out of a powerful and – by global standards – progressive trade block, and into the clutches of US big food?”

Well, clearly, we should always do the opposite of whatever Tim Lang suggests about anything. But beyond that.

Maybe we do want this cheap pork. Maybe we don’t. The people who get to decide this being we of course. So, we do indeed get to decide if it’s sitting on the shelves, marked as being US stuff, and we can choose to buy it or not. I myself wouldn’t buy US bacon simply because it’s disgusting but it takes all sorts. That being the point, utility is personal, tastes differ and chacun a son gout.

The only reason to ban the stuff, to use this warning against the trade deal, is because you think that some people will indeed buy it. If it’s true that “we” don’t want it then even if it’s available we won’t buy it. Thus the trade deal makes no difference. It only does make a difference if we will buy it – then it will indeed displace some of that more ethically produced pigmeat. But if we do buy it then that means that we do want it. So, why are we not having the trade deal which will give us what we want?

The answer being that Tim Lang thinks we shouldn’t be allowed to have preferences different from those of Tim Lang, and that the law be used to force us to accord to his wishes. The only reason to ban cheap pork is because you think we’d like to have cheap pork. At which point we should be seriously considering rendering down Tim Lang’s pretensions into cooking fat, no?

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timworstallSamarkand Tonybloke in spainGrope_of_Big_HornQuentin Vole Recent comment authors
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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

When I moved to the US I had that idea about US bacon. Eventually I found brands that were pretty decent for streaky. You can’t buy back bacon at all, it seems, except from farmers markets and such. What is remarkable about the US bacon is that it fries nicely. So much EU bacon leaks so much water that it boils in the pan. I would gladly buy the brands I liked again if they were imported.

timworstall
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timworstall

Boar’s Head being one of the good ones, agreed.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Is the British ability to produce Prodnoses only matched by the German’s for informers?

bloke in spain
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bloke in spain

Of course, there’s another point. Tim Lang obviously disapproves of US pig rearing standards produce US style pigmeat. British presumably like Brit style pigmeat produced to Brit standards. UK’s about a fifth the size of the US pigmeat market. Well worth the US pig rearers producing pigmeat to UK style & to UK standards, if that was a requirement. Might even encourage the rest of the US pig rearers to move towards UK standards in pigmeat production. In trade, it’s not just goods get traded.

Q46
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Q46

UK standards? You mean EU standards. And why does the EU have standards in agriculture? French farmers spring to mind, but not just the French variety.

Standards = protectionism to reduce competition and keep prices and therefore profits for some up.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

EU standards for pig husbandry are not much stricter than the US. Because the Danes will veto them. How much Danish bacon is there in the shops?

Grope_of_Big_Horn
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Grope_of_Big_Horn

What I like about free trade, or declaring UFT even, is that it gives you the best of both worlds. Those who dislike what is imported are not compelled to buy it, and those who are prepared to give it a try get to try it. I don’t think it would work that way though, but for a different reason: a US industry rep said on R4 recently that the main reason US meat is cheap is because of the low price of feed there which makes up more than 2/3rds of the cost. If the UK could import that… Read more »

bloke in spain
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bloke in spain

Like I said below, in trade it’s not only goods get traded. If the UK was part of the US market for meat, those US taxpayer subsidies for animal feed would be going indirectly to UK consumers. US taxpayer mightn’t like subsidising the dinner tables of Brits. Result, Reduction in farming subsidies compensated by an increase in demand for US meat & more profits for farmers. And it’s worth remembering, the UK’s a very big potential market for US producers. Fifth the population of the States. Nearly twice that of Canada. Closer trade ties with the US could be a… Read more »

Samarkand Tony
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Samarkand Tony

Er, the only reason to make murder illegal is that sometimes people want to murder. The question is whether they should be allowed to.

The question in this specific case is whether there is a sufficient moral argument to make buying cheap bacon illegal. Personally I think there is, because adulterated bacon should be a crime. Better no bacon at all.