Pigswill and public health: a load of EU bull

7 January 2011 by

[Updated] In the spirit of our coverage of environmental activism in one form or another, here is the website strapline for the  Campaign for Real Farming, which sets out to 

achieve nothing less than the people’s takeover of the food supply

Some of the initiatives for that takeover were being aired at the CRF’s “fringe” farming conference which took place in Oxford this week, voicing polite but forceful protest against the high production objectives of the mainstream Farming Conference in the Examination Schools next door.
According to CRF founder Colin Tudge,  if we are serious about feeding 9 bn people in a few decades’ time, the current food production system, which is designed to make money, has to be dismantled in favour of small scale, labour intensive farming, which is designed to feed people.  Like any reform movement, this “agrarian renaissance” is about wresting power away from existing authorities and it has set its sights on, amongst other things, the constellation of laws and regulations governing the cultivation of food.

The swelling pressure of  high profile environmental court campaigns reinforces the message that the development of some sort of ecological altruism is necessarily tied up with human rights. It is a truth universally acknowledged, not in the ironic sense,  that civil and political freedoms don’t amount to a can of beans in a society ravaged by famine. And to anyone still querying the connection between food production and human rights, this reflection from Chief White Cloud may provide some assistance:

Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten (USA 1900)

Foremost among the Real Farming Campaign’s concerns are waste and depletion of limited resources, significantly land; and arguably nothing encapsulates these problems more forcefully than the Europe-wide ban on feeding catering waste to farm animals. The following is based on a paper I gave to the conference on the subject.

The Big Bad Pig: Nanny’s Revenge

First came the BSE scare, triggered off by the feeding of ruminants on meat and bone meal (MBMs) as a source of quick protein to meet the demands of the beef and dairy industry. As ecologist Simon Fairlie says

The BSE scare made the British public both aware and fearful of the rendering industry and prompted a series of crackdowns on the use of rendered meat and catering waste. Having caused a health scandal by feeding dead meat to herbivores, the government reacted in 1996, by banning the practice of feeding MBM to omniverous pigs, whose gut is just as well adapted to eating meat as yours or mine. The result is that now large quantities of slaughterhouse wastes, particularly rich in phosphorus (which the world is slowly mining to exhaustion), are being incinerated. (Simon Fairlie, “The Plight of the Pig in the Nanny State” in Meat: a Benign Extravagance Permanent Publications 2010)

Then, the foot and mouth fiasco. So the ban – which had been adopted by the EU – was quickly extended to cover not just slaughter waste (but see note)  but all foodstuffs that might include animal protein, in other words, all food waste, whether it emerges from restaurants, institutions, or the domestic kitchen.  This has far reaching and problematic implications. First, because the ban is confusingly broad. The criteria for what does and does not constitute a “farmed animal” and “catering waste” require hours of research in recondite EU sites to elicit any sort of an answer (which is unsatisfactory anyway). Here is the definition of catering waste, buried in Annex I of Regulation EC No 142/2011, Section 22:

all waste food, including used cooking oil originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens

So this is caught by the ban which covers products of animal origin, or foodstuffs containing products of animal origin, irrespective of whether the catering waste contains animal by products (surplus vegetable, fruit or bakery products). This leads to defensive regulation by public authorities whose task it is to make sure that commercial enterprises in their jurisdiction do not breach EU law, preventing the supermarkets from separating non-protein waste to supply the agricultural feed manufacturers with perfectly safe, non-ABP former foodstuffs.

Second, because a substitute had to be found for this important form of protein, so the consequence of this legislation has been a “huge increase” in soya beans from South America –

the extent of recent deforestation in the Amazon exactly matches the shortfall in animal feed (Fairlie, op.cit.)

An Inspector Calls…

Third, this is a draconian imposition of criminal liability on an activity we are all being urged to prioritise – resourceful recycling. A cursory glance at the Defra website will reveal how swift and fierce the retribution will be to anyone feeding food scraps to farmed animals, no matter how small the operation and how innocent the scraps. Anyone with a few hens pecking away in the backyard needs to look sharp: a “farmed animal” for the purpose of the Regulation means any animal kept for the provision of food, and a couple of eggs a week may bring a Defra van trundling up the drive at any moment.

And the fourth and final reason why this is such a cause for concern is because the source of this draconian legislation is a Regulation, not a Directive. Any student of EU law will know that a Regulation is virtually unassailable by way of judicial review, since it occupies in the EU hierarchy a place analogous to primary legislation in national law. To cross the threshold of admissibility anyone challenging the legality of a regulation has to prove that they are “individually concerned” by the measure (Article 230 EC).  An attempt was made by animal feed operatives to annul or at least challenge the ABP regulation in 2004; the ECJ rejected the challenge without even opening oral proceedings.  If the applicants in that case  that specialized in the conversion of catering waste into animal feed – were not “individually concerned’ by a measure that banned the entry of catering waste into the food chain, it is hard to see who is. And even if such a challenge were to be admitted for consideration, it would be defeated at the first hurdle of legality, since the legal basis for this instrument is that old EU shibboleth, public health.

A Burning Shame

As Fairlie points out, the historic figures for outbreaks of disease in farmed animals suggest that the  connection between the ban and public health is highly debatable.

The abrupt closure … of the EU’s largest and most profitable recycling industries at a moment in history when the public was being urged to recycle everything else was nothing short of extraordinary. The swill ban was imposed as a panic reaction to an epidemic which could not possibly have been contained by restrictions on feed, and then absorbed into EU policy without any public assessment of its usefulness or effectiveness (Fairlie, op.cit.)

During WWII waste food was routinely fed by pig keepers to their stock the incidence of swine fever actually fell. The real menace is not swill, but concentration of large numbers of animals in confined spaces – you don’t have to have a PhD in epidemiology to grasp the fact that pathogens flourish in intensively stocked farms and long distance animal trading.

To return to the third point, the unintended consequence of this ban is massive increase in pressure on landfill. In 2004 Boris Johnson, then MP for Henley, reported that in his constituency a hotel

must now pay an extra £1,000 a year to a licensed collector, whose responsibility it is to remove wet waste that previously went to a pigswill feeder. Given that there is room for only three years’ waste in our landfill sites, that is not the cleanest and greenest solution. It is estimated that the ban on swill feeding is generating an extra 1.7 million tonnes of waste per year, and that which does not fill up our landfill sites must be going down our drains, clogging up the sewers and attracting vermin

and the leading businessman and food consultant Lord Haskins was widely quoted as estimating that in the UK we throw away about 20 million tonnes of edible material – half of all the food produced.

In the strange looking-glass world of the EU, rafts of laws are proposed and produced enjoining us to recycle, limit landfill, restrict incineration, cut down on carbon emissions and save energy. At the same time one of the chief engines of energy waste – the regulation banning pigswill – is not only being retained but has been renewed in its full force (Regulation 1069/09, due to be implemented in March by the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2011). Taking into account the CO2 emissions of food waste incineration, the deforestation caused by feeding soya to pigs, and the calorific value of the stuff we have to burn instead of turning into pork, this is lunacy law.

Note: there are now moves afoot to lift the ban on the use of meat and bonemeal (slaughterhouse render, otherwise known as MBMs) in food for farmed pigs, poultry and fish, to alleviate the pressure on farmers to supply high protein foodstuffs to non-ruminant livestock: see the Commission’s draft amendment. However the ban on catering waste from institutions, restaurants and kitchens remains in force and as yet undebated.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

More reading

1 comment;


  1. Tim Evans says:

    You are absolutely correct. If the FMD outbreak was really from improperly cooked pig swill (which contravened the then current law) the response should have been to tighten up monitoring and enforcement – evolution based on science not revolution. Modern sensors could monitor and record the time-temperature easily and inexpensively; they could even lock the cookers until time-temperature had been met. Telemetry could even deliver the data to Defra inspectors’ desks inexpensively. Instead the UK government stupidly threw out the old regs and imposed new ones which meant instead of recycling food waste as pig food, pig feeding switched to primary food and more food waste want to landfill, which as anybody who cares to look can see are diners for seagulls and other carion, which could then carry disease to farmland. Feeding pigs with [properly cooked] food waste has a much better global warming potential than the alternatives.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Tags


7/7 Bombings 9/11 A1P1 Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology birds directive blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity circumcision citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Cologne Commission on a Bill of Rights common buzzard common law communications competition confidentiality confiscation order conscientious objection consent conservation constitution contact order contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Criminal Legal Aid criminal records Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty declaration of incompatibility defamation DEFRA Democracy village deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention devolution Dignitas dignity Dignity in Dying diplomacy director of public prosecutions disability Disability-related harassment disciplinary hearing disclosure Discrimination Discrimination law disease divorce DNA doctors does it matter? domestic violence Dominic Grieve don't ask don't ask don't tell don't tell Doogan and Wood double conviction DPP guidelines drones duty of care ECHR economic and social rights economic loss ECtHR Education election Employment Environment environmental information Equality Act Equality Act 2010 ethics Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice european disability forum European Sanctions Blog Eurozone euthanasia evidence Exclusion extra-jurisdictional reach of ECHR extra-territoriality extradition extradition act extradition procedures extradition review extraordinary rendition Facebook Facebook contempt facial recognition fair procedures Fair Trial faith courts fake news Family family courts family law family legal aid Family life fatal accidents act Fertility fertility treatment FGM fisheries fishing rights foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression freedom of information Freedom of Information Act 2000 freedom of movement freedom of speech free speech game birds gangbo gang injunctions Garry Mann gary dobson Gary McFarlane gay discrimination Gay marriage gay rights gay soldiers Gaza Gaza conflict Gender General Dental Council General Election General Medical Council genetic discrimination genetic engineering genetic information genetics genetic testing Google government Grenfell grooming Gun Control gwyneth paltrow gypsies habitats habitats protection Halsbury's Law Exchange hammerton v uk happy new year harassment Hardeep Singh Haringey Council Harkins and Edwards Health healthcare health insurance Heathrow heist heightened scrutiny Henry VII Henry VIII herd immunity hereditary disorder High Court of Justiciary Hirst v UK HIV HJ Iran HM (Iraq) v The Secretary of state for the home department [2010] EWCA Civ 1322 Holder holkham beach holocaust homelessness Home Office Home Office v Tariq homeopathy hooding Hounslow v Powell House of Commons Housing housing benefits Howard League for Penal Reform how judges decide cases hra damages claim Hrant Dink HRLA HS2 hs2 challenge hts http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/04/11/us-state-department-reports-on-uk-human-rights/ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority human genome human rights Human Rights Act Human Rights Act 1998 human rights advocacy Human rights and the UK constitution human rights commission human rights conventions human rights damages Human Rights Day human rights decisions Human Rights Information Project human rights news Human Rights Watch human right to education human trafficking hunting Huntington's Disease HXA hyper injunctions Igor Sutyagin illegality defence immigration Immigration/Extradition Immigration Act 2014 immigration appeals immigration detention immigration judge immigration rules immunity increase of sanction India Indonesia Infrastructure Planning Committee inherent jurisdiction inherited disease Inhuman and degrading treatment injunction Inquest Inquests insult insurance insurmountable obstacles intelligence services act intercept evidence interception interests of the child interim remedies international international conflict international criminal court international humanitarian law international human rights international human rights law international law international treaty obligations internet internet service providers internment internship inuit investigation investigative duty in vitro fertilisation Iran iranian bank sanctions Iranian nuclear program Iraq Iraqi asylum seeker Iraq War Ireland irrationality islam Israel Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan Jason Smith Jeet Singh Jefferies Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt job Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism judges Judges and Juries judging Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference judicial review Judicial Review reform judiciary Julian Assange jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 just satisfaction Katyn Massacre Kay v Lambeth Kay v UK Ken Clarke Ken Pease Kerry McCarthy Kettling Kings College Klimas koran burning Labour Lady Hale lansley NHS reforms LASPO Law Commission Law Pod UK Law Society Law Society of Scotland leave to enter leave to remain legal aid legal aid cuts Legal Aid desert Legal Aid Reforms legal blogs Legal Certainty legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure lgbtq liability Libel libel reform Liberal Democrat Conference Liberty libraries closure library closures Libya licence conditions licence to shoot life insurance life sentence life support limestone pavements limitation lisbon treaty Lithuania Litigation litvinenko live exports local authorities locked in syndrome london borough of merton London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Blair Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge speech Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Rodger Lord Sumption Lord Taylor LSC tender luftur rahman machine learning MAGA Magna Carta mail on sunday Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy malice Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation margin of discretion Maria Gallastegui marriage material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Mattu v The University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 2068 (QB) Maya the Cat Mba v London Borough Of Merton McKenzie friend Media and Censorship Medical medical liability medical negligence medical qualifications medical records medicine mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental Health Courts Mental illness merits review MGN v UK michael gove Midwives migrant crisis Milly Dowler Ministerial Code Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts misfeasance in public office modern slavery morality morocco mortuaries motherhood Motor Neurone disease Moulton Mousa MP expenses Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department murder murder reform Musician's Union Muslim NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 naked rambler Naomi Campbell nationality National Pro Bono Week national security Natural England nature conservation naturism Nazi negligence Neuberger neuroscience Newcastle university news News of the World new Supreme Court President NHS NHS Risk Register Nick Clegg Nicklinson Niqaab Noise Regulations 2005 Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance nursing nursing home Obituary Occupy London offensive jokes Offensive Speech offensive t shirt oil spill olympics open justice oppress OPQ v BJM orchestra Osama Bin Laden Oxford University paramountcy principle parental rights parenthood parking spaces parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament square parole board passive smoking pastor Terry Jones patents Pathway Students Patrick Quinn murder Pensions persecution personal data Personal Injury personality rights perversity Peter and Hazelmary Bull PF and EF v UK Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps physical and mental disabilities physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy Plagiarism planning planning human rights planning system plebgate POCA podcast points Poland Police police investigations police liability police misconduct police powers police surveillance Policy Exchange report political judges Politics Politics/Public Order poor reporting Pope Pope's visit Pope Benedict portal possession proceedings power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention predator control pregnancy press press briefing press freedom Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes prisoner voting prison numbers Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door Private life private nuisance private use proceeds of crime Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 psychiatric hospitals Public/Private public access publication public authorities Public Bodies Bill public inquiries public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity Public Order Public Sector Equality Duty putting the past behind quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 895 R (on the application of) v The General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839 (Admin) R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 race relations Rachel Corrie Radmacher Raed Salah Mahajna Raed Saleh Ramsgate raptors rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion resuscitation RightsInfo right to die right to family life right to life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials security services sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa south african constitution Spain special advocates spending cuts Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance swine flu Syria Tax Taxi technology Terrorism terrorism act tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine unfair consultation universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vaccination vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe

Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: