The latest Brexit scare story is that a trade deal with the US will undermine food standards in Britain.
US food standards certainly make for grim reading.
The US Defect Levels Handbook sets out the maximum amount of “foreign” bodies in food before action should be taken.
It allows, for instance, for up to an “average of 30 or more insect fragments per 10 grams” in ground allspice before questions are raised.
But as with so much about Brexit, we are presented with a fake choice.
You can Leave and have cockroaches for your Brexit breakfast or Remain and have probiotic yoghurt spooned lovingly into your mouth by Lib Dem politicians.
They are two equally horrific images.
A trade deal with the US negotiated by the Tories will mean attacks on working class people.
That’s because the interests of ordinary people are at the bottom of the Tories’ list.
But looking to the EU to save us is a dead end and lets the Tories off the hook.
British membership of the EU didn’t stop the 2013 horse meat scandal in 13 European countries.
In Britain, this saw 37 percent of beef products tested register positive for horse DNA.
It also saw 85 percent of those same products test positive for pig DNA.
There are countless other examples because EU food standards are not on the whole better than US ones.
Local councils are responsible for enforcing food legislation.
But cuts of 50 percent to local authority budgets since 2010 means food inspectors are stretched and incapable of enforcing standards.
There is a third option rather than the US or EU. We should kick the Tories out and argue for a Brexit that prioritises the interests of ordinary people, such as safe, nutritious food for everyone.
Tackle the causes of asthma
Some headlines take my breath away. A recent example came last week when newspapers screamed, “Asthma inhalers account for 4.5 percent of the NHS carbon footprint.”
I found a statistic that stated the NHS produces 5.4 percent of greenhouse gases in Britain.
So asthma inhalers account for a small percentage of a small percentage.
But this pales into insignificance when compared with the emissions from traffic, flights and corporations.
There was quite a ridiculous article on the BBC website following that announcement.
It stated, “Many people with asthma could cut their carbon footprint and help save the environment by switching to ‘greener’ medications.”
Yes, that’s true. But it’s about as effective a way to cut my carbon footprint as dying—as a result of not using my inhaler.
Meanwhile the major contributors to asthma symptoms, which the individual asthma sufferer can do nothing about, just continue unabated.
They include pollution from traffic, industrial pollution, damp housing, and many other factors.
If pollution from cars and industry are reduced and damp housing is sorted out not only will it reduce the levels of ill health overall. Guess what—it will reduce the need for asthma inhalers.
But that’s just not a very good headline.
A victory for those who resisted the DWP’s lies
The Advertising Standards Authority’s decision to uphold a complaint against the Department for Work and Pensions has vindicated campaigners and trade unionists.
Instead of investing in a social security system that works, the Tories wasted £225,000 on propaganda adverts.
They were aimed at trying to convince the public that Universal Credit (UC) is a success, rather than the reality of foodbanks, starving children and women forced to turn to sex work.
The authority found the nine week series of advertorials run in the Metro newspaper to be “misleading”.
And it said the claim that people on UC move faster into work than on the previous benefits system to be unsubstantiated.
Encourage people to take action
I was approached to help organise an LGBT+ solidarity protest after an incident at the Nightingales club in Birmingham.
A person came into contact with security guards at the club last week. But the incident also raised other issues about profiling and dress code, including racism.
People wearing hijabs have been challenged with, “Do you know this is a gay club?” and been turned away.
The protest was quite young and many had never been on a demo before. Our responsibility is to build people’s confidence to protest, to speak out, to organise.
Keep up the fracking fight
I read you’re article on the Tories halting fracking for shale gas in England (Socialist Worker, 6 November).
This is good, but the Tories have introduced a temporary ban before, pending inquiries into the safety of fracking after a previous earthquake.
They then lifted that ban after the fuss had died down.
The companies that have already invested in fracking will not back down without a fight.
So we have to be prepared for a long fight.
- There will never be a ban on fracking while the Tories are at the helm.
Why refugees cross channel
Some People ask why refugees risk death by trying to make it across the Channel (Socialist Worker, 5 November).
One reason is that there is a lot of children in Calais who are trying to reach the rest of their family.
But the British government is illegally stopping them.
Strikes will help Tories
Postal workers striking when there is an election will, surely, give the Tories an opportunity to claim that we’re returning to 1970s Britain.
Any other time l would be completely with the CWU union members.
- The Tories and media will always attack striking workers as we are the real threat to them.
If it wasn’t the election it would be something else.
CWU members won our strike ballot in October long before the election announcement.
If the Tories want to wring their hands about the importance of the postal service then the easy response is that they shouldn’t have privatised it.