The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has added its voice to demands for high animal health and welfare standards to be upheld in the post-Brexit era.
In a speech at the BVA’s annual dinner the association’s president, Daniella Dos Santos asked for government commitment that food which was produced to lower animal health and welfare standards would not be imported as part of any future trade deal.
She claimed the media was “obsessed” with chlorine-washed chicken.
“It certainly makes a good headline,” she said.
“But we mustn’t allow it to distract from the grim realities about the animal welfare compromises that could be imported to the UK. I hope that we can all agree that our reputation relies on not allowing animal health and welfare to be compromised at any cost.”
Ms Dos Santos also appealed to the government to work with the veterinary profession after Boris Johnson confirmed a set of negotiating priorities that would mean animals and animal products exported from the UK into the EU single market would need veterinary certification and checks – whether or not the UK leaves with a deal at the end of the transition period.
She also raised fears about how the future immigration system would protect vets working in abattoirs, as 95% of them hail from outside the UK.
Ms Dos Santos warned the extra checks on animals and animal products could spark a surge in demand for her members’ services.
And while she welcomed efforts to increase vet school places, she said this needed to be matched with increased funding.
She added: “I would urge ministers to look at how to fund our future vets, to give students from all backgrounds the best shot at a successful pathway to graduation.”