Vets call for rethink on Trade and Agriculture Commission
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling on the Government to rethink its Trade and Agricultural Commission amid concerns that only one member of the 16-strong group is a veterinary surgeon.
BVA president Daniella dos Santos has written to international trade secretary Liz Truss highlighting concern over the balance of expertise. In the letter, she highlights the fact that 'veterinary surgeons have the unique role, responsibility and training to advocate for animal health and welfare.'
She also notes that the RSPCA has also questioned whether the Commission has the necessary expertise in these matters to deliver on the Government’s pledge to uphold standards in future trade deals.
The Trade and Agricultural Commission was established in June to consider which policies the UK Government should adopt in free trade agreements to ensure UK animal welfare and production standards are not undermined.
The BVA welcomed the announcement and called for veterinary expertise to be at the heart of its membership and remit - specifically asking for BVA representation on the group. But when the Department for International Trade announced the membership on 10 July, it revealed that only one member is a veterinary surgeon – former UK CVO Professor Nigel Gibbens.
The BVA says that while it fully supports the appointment of Professor Gibbens, the Government should reconsider the decision not to include a representative from the Association who can represent the views and expertise of the UK veterinary profession as a whole.
“The Trade and Agriculture Commission is a hugely important initiative which has the potential to safeguard our high animal health and welfare standards and give British consumers confidence in the food they buy,” said Daniella Dos Santos. “International trade in animal products cannot happen without the veterinary profession. We are uniquely qualified to safeguard animal health and welfare and public health, and we should be well represented on the Commission."
She continued: “The public is understandably concerned about the potential lowering of UK standards. We are asking Liz Truss to rethink the membership of the Commission so that it has the right balance of expertise with much more emphasis on animal welfare.”