This bill is a blatant attack on the protections currently in place to protect animal welfare, our environment and human health.
A new law proposed by the Brazilian Government will end mandatory inspections of meat production which would result in a huge upsurge in extreme cruelty, chemical pollution and staff health and safety.
Dozens of animal advocacy organisations, conservationist groups and Brazilian senators have now joined together to voice collective concern over the Self-Control Bill from the Ministry of Agriculture.
If approved, the law will enable the government to withdraw all mandatory state inspections into the animal agriculture industry. Federal inspectors would supervise compliance by auditing company reports, with no on-site supervision required.
The bill was put forward to increase the capacity of the animal agriculture sector to increase exports. But charities warn that animal welfare and sanitary standards “are at extremely serious risk” and that “already vulnerable farmed animals will be at increased risk of extreme violence and cruelty ”.
Abigail Penny, executive director of Animal Equality UK, said: “This issue is far closer to home than you might first think.
"The UK imports tens of thousands of tonnes of animal products from Brazil every year and with such a disturbing lack of oversight there’s no way of knowing how those animals lived and died.
"The suffering they endured will forever be kept out of sight. Ultimately, if governments won’t protect them, we as consumers can, by leaving animals off of our plates.”
Those companies that opt-in for inspections will be allowed to hire private inspectors or firms to supervise legal compliance.
This has raised alarms with members of the Association of Inspectors (ANFFA Sindical), who admit that it poses a conflict of interest, as private companies will not have the resources or power to counterbalance the interests of the large food businesses and, if they highlight failings, will be at risk of losing paying clients.
The bill would also allow for automatic approval of animal vaccines, antibiotics and anti-parasite medicines to be used on farms without commercial purposes, without the need for a formal assessment to first be carried out by government professionals and for a formal license of approval to be given.
Campaigners say that the withdrawal of government inspections also means that the use of illegal agrochemicals cannot be easily identified and prevented, nor can those manufactured and sold at lower prices that are not approved by authorities and may cause serious public health problems.
The bill has already been approved in May 2022 in the Lower House of the Congress and sent to the Senate the same month. A public hearing was held in early June but only representatives of the agribusiness sector and the ANFFA Sindical-o were invited.
Carla Lettieri, executive director of Animal Equality Brazil, said: “The bill is moving at such speed, it’s clearly being fast-tracked.
"This bill is a blatant attack on the protections currently in place to protect animal welfare, our environment and human health. We will not sit back and watch as our laws are loosened. The only ones who would win is the animal agriculture industry, who will be left to self-police”.
Animal Equality Brazil has coordinated a number of actions to shed light on the potentially negative impacts of the bill, including sending letters to appeal for Senators to reconsider the Bill’s approval. Supporters include Greenpeace Brazil, Mercy for Animals and Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC).
This latest joint action has successfully reverted the voting of the public consultation and now, with this increased public awareness, the number of Brazilian citizens voting against the Bill is greater than those in favour.
According to the latest figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, in 2021 the UK imported £3.2 million worth of fresh beef and Brazilian imports made up nearly half of processed beef imports in 2021, the equivalent of £33.6 million of meat.
Brendan Montague is the editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Animal Equality UK.