President Donald Trump is campaigning in Texas without a face mask on Wednesday as the state has seen its coronavirus cases surge and he again defended a doctor who touted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the deadly disease.
Trump arrived in Midland, Texas, without a mask even as most of the state officials greeting him wore one, including Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry wore a face covering but removed it when the president got to him.
Also on the tarmac were two teenagers – both wearing masks – who had the president sign football helmets. Nearby Odessa, Texas, where the president held a posh fundraiser, is the setting of the famous book on high school football ‘Friday Night Lights.’
Many of the guests lined up to go into the fundraiser were not wearing face masks.
President Donald Trump is campaigning in Texas without a face mask on Wednesday as coronavirus cases spike in the state
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas greets President Trump while wearing a face mask
Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry removed his mask to greet President Trump
President Trump signed football helmets for two teenagers upon his arrival
There are 406,746 coronavirus cases in Texas, including 6,049 deaths. Gov. Abbott has walked back the state’s reopening process due to the spike in infections. Texas was one of the first states to begin the process of reopening its economy.
A Republican House candidate, Wesley Hunt, wrote on Twitter he was in route to Midland to meet Trump when he was informed he tested positive for the coronavirus and headed back for Houston.
‘I remain asymptomatic and feel in perfect health. I have taken all the necessary steps to prevent myself from contracting and transmitting the virus,’ he wrote.
‘I will be quarantining and ask that everyone continue to follow the CDC, state and local government guidelines in battling COVID-19. Together, we will beat this,’ he added.
Trump, meanwhile, also continued to defend a controversial doctor, Stella Immanuel, who has pushed hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus.
Immanuel has a long history of conspiracy theories and she has also claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches and that alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments.
‘I was very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her,’ Trump said Wednesday before leaving the White House for Texas.
Trump criticized social media companies for labeling her comments misinformation and removing the video that featured her. Trump had retweeted video of her that Twitter removed.
‘I was very impressed by her. I know nothing about her, I had never seen her before, but certainly you could put her up and let her have a voice. So what they did is they took down their voice. Now, they seem to never take down the other side. They only take down conservative voices,’ he said.
‘And with hydroxy, all I want to do is save lives,’ Trump added.
In May the World Health Organization stopped its hydroxychloroquine trial. The National Institutes for Health similarly halted their trial in June after determining it provided ‘no benefit’ in the patients studied.
Trump admitted in May he was on a two week course of the drug as part of a regime to combat the coroanvirus.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said ‘Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or Covid-19.’
‘The scientific data, the cumulative data on trials, clinical trials that were valid, namely, clinical trials that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or Covid-19,’ Fauci told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon.
He also criticized online videos that tout incorrect information about the virus.
So, when there’s a video out there from a bunch of people spouting something that isn’t true, the only recourse you have is to be very, very clear in presenting the scientific data that essentially contradicts that,’ he said.
Ahead of Trump’s trip, Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, who frequently walks around the U.S. Capitol without wearing a face mask, tested positive for the coronavirus.
He was scheduled to travel with President Trump from Washington D.C. on Air Force One. His positive test came when he was tested at the White House ahead of the travel.
The White House tests individuals who will interact with the president by taking a sample using a nasal swab and then running it through an Abbott Laboratories point-of-care test, which can deliver results in less than 15 minutes.
Trump, on Wednesday, will also visit Midland, the birthplace of former first lady Laura Bush and the one-time home of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, marking his 16th visit to the Lone Star State as president.
Many of the officials greeting President Trump in Texas wore face masks
Texas Republican Chairman Allen West, a former congressman, did not wear a face mask to greet President Trump
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas traveled with President Trump and wore a face mask
Rep. Louis Gohmert, who is regularly seen on Capitol Hill not wearing a mask, tested positive for the coronavirus after screened at the White House so he could travel to Texas with President Trump; Gohmert did not make the trip
President Trump continued to defend Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories and who claims hydroxy cures coronavirus
Trump will tour the Double Eagle Energy oil rig in Midland, the place where George H.W. Bush moved to after college to make his fortune in the oil fields.
The president had originally balked at wearing a face mask, saying it was a personal choice and arguing he wasn’t a high risk for spreading the virus since he is tested for it regularly. He skipped wearing a mask at stops in Maine and Arizona. He was photographed back stage wearing one at a Ford factory visit in Michigan but had removed it when he went before the cameras.
Trump finally wore one openly in public when he visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center on July 11 and he wore one on Monday when he toured a biofactory in North Carolina.
Earlier this month, he urged people to wear one.
‘I have reminded people of the importance of masks when you can’t socially distance, in particular,’ he said during a press briefing at the White House.
‘Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact,’ he noted.
Trump’s visit to Texas also demonstrates the need for the president to solidify his support in a state that was firmly in his column in the last election. And it indicates his campaign is taking nothing for granted in a contest that has Biden leading in national polls.
Trump carried Texas by 9 points in the 2016 contest but the RealClearPolitics polling average of the state has the contest there essentially tied – a worrying sign for Republicans as Democrats have pushed to turn the state blue.
And Democrat Beto O’Rourke fired up the party’s dreams when he came close to knocking off Republican Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, losing by only 2 points.
But Republicans in the state are confident Texas will be red in November, pointing out the high cost of campaigning in Texas with its large size and its more than 20 media markets, many of which are expensive.
‘I am still an doubtful Texas will be a quote/unquote ‘battleground state.’ If it’s truly competitive Biden is going win 400 to 450 electoral votes which I don’t think is likely to happen,’ Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist based in Texas, told DailyMail.com.
President Trump will also visit Midland Texas, which is Bush country: Laura Bush was born there and George W. Bush lived there with his parents for years when George H.W. Bush worked in the oil industry
Masked man: Donald Trump was photographed wearing a mask in public for only the second time as he toured a pharmaceutical plant in Morrissville, North Carolina, on Monday
President Donald Trump, foreground left, wears a face mask as he walks with military officials during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11
The Biden campaign has to weigh carefully where to spend its campaign cash. Money spent in Texas could easily be spread to several other Trump states that have become competitive this year, such as Arizona and Georgia.
Team Biden has indicated it’s not sure it will contest the state.
‘Texas is 22 [expletive] media markets,’ a Biden adviser told The Washington Post. ‘That is never going to happen. It’s just not going to happen. Everyone knows that. I don’t know why people are still even talking about it.’
Meet Trump’s new favorite doctor, Dr Stella Immanuel, a homophobic preacher who uses ‘alien DNA’ as a cure, blames witchcraft for illness and says hydroxychloroquine can stop Covid 19
A Texas-based doctor whose declarations about using hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID-19 were retweeted by Donald Trump has a long history of supporting conspiracy theories, it has emerged.
Dr Stella Immanuel, 55, shot to fame on Monday when the president retweeted a video featuring her appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress.
She attacked ‘fake doctors’ who doubt the efficacy of the drug, and claimed it’s a ‘cure’, adding ‘you don’t need a mask.’
Stella Immanuel shot to fame in a video touting a discredited COVID-19 cure
Donald Trump on Monday night tweeted her video, before it was removed from social media
‘If some fake science comes out and says we’ve done studies and they found out that it doesn’t work, I can tell you categorically it’s fake science,’ she said.
‘I want to know who’s conducted that study and who’s behind it. Because there is no way I have treat 350 patients and counting and nobody is dead.’
She said she has treated patients with hydroxychloroquine along with zinc, and the antibiotic zithromax.
Donald Trump Jr was also impressed by her speech, noting on Twitter that it was ‘a must-watch’.
Immanuel, who runs the Fire Power Ministries in a strip mall next door to her clinic in Houston, was born in Cameroon and did her medical training in Nigeria, The Daily Beast reported.
On her Facebook page she describes herself as: ‘Physician, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Deliverance Minister, God’s battle axe and weapon of war.’
The church’s ‘beliefs’ section on their website – which has now been taken down – says they are against ‘unmarried couples living together, homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy, etc.,’ Heavy reported.
Stella Immanuel has run the Fire Power Ministries in Houston, Texas, since 2002
Immanuel preaches sermons about homosexuality, aliens, and vaccine conspiracy theories
One sentence in the profile reads: ‘Her attitude toward demonic forces has been described as cut-throat, a warrior to the core.’
Immanuel is also a ‘wealth transfer coach’ and believes ‘you can be saved, anointed, fire brand and wealthy too.’
A mother of three daughters, Immanuel reportedly studied medicine in Nigeria between 1984 and 1990.
In November 1998, Immanuel began working as a pediatrician in Alexandria, Louisiana.
She has been a physician at the Rehoboth Medical Center in Katy, just west of Houston, Texas, since October 2019.
The 55-year-old was born in Cameroon
She received a medical license in Texas eight months ago, in November, according to state records.
A Nigerian website, PM News, reported that Immanuel did a residency in pediatrics at Bronx-Lebanon in New York. It was unclear when.
She then interned under Dr. Babatunde Dosu, a Dallas-based Nigerian pediatrician.
It also stated that she holds medical licenses in Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky.
Immanuel founded the church in 2002 and has given sermons attacking progressive values and promoting conspiracy theories including ‘the gay agenda, secular humanism, Illuminati and the demonic New World Order.’
She has claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.
She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, saying: ‘They’re using all kinds of DNA, even alien DNA, to treat people.’
In a 2015 sermon she declared that the Illuminati are promoting a plan hatched by ‘a witch’ to destroy the world using abortion, gay marriage, and children’s toys.
Immanuel claims the Magic 8-Ball toy is in fact a scheme to get children used to witchcraft. ‘The 8-Ball was a psychic,’ she said.
Immanuel describes herself on Facebook as: ‘Physician, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Deliverance Minister, God’s battle axe and weapon of war.’
‘There are people that are ruling this nation that are not even human,’ Immanuel said, before launching into a conversation she had with a ‘reptilian spirit’ she described as ‘half-human, half-ET.’
In another 2015 sermon she said scientists had plans to install microchips in people, and develop a ‘vaccine’ to make it impossible to become religious.
‘They found the gene in somebody’s mind that makes you religious, so they can vaccinate against it,’ Immanuel said.
Immanuel warned that the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana was a gateway to evil, because its character had an ‘alter ego.’ She has claimed that schools teach children to meditate so they can ‘meet with demons.’
She also urges that ‘children need to be whipped’.
The doctor warned her flock that gay marriage meant that ‘very soon people are going to be seeking to marry children’.
She accused gay Americans of practicing ‘homosexual terrorism’ and praised a father’s decision to not love his transgender son after a gender transition.
‘You know the crazy part?’ Immanuel said.
‘The little girl demands he must love her anyway. Really? You will not get it from me, I’d be like ‘Little girl, when you come back to be a little girl again, but you talk—for now, I’m gone.”
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Game of drones: Air corridor set up for flying postal service
Ambitions of an airborne postal service have moved a step closer due to a ‘flight corridor’ being created near Reading.
The five mile long aerial highway, the first commercial route of its type in the world, will be set up south of the Berkshire town by the end of the year, according to the Times.
Drone pilots will be able to to control them beyond their line of sight, which is not normally the case under existing regulations.
A new air traffic control system for unmanned devices will monitor the corridor and feed automated instructions to the drones to keep them away from others or change path if they’re in danger of crashing.
The corridor, a third of a mile in width will operate in the same normal airspace used by commercial jets, helicopters and light aircraft.
Ambitions of an airborne postal service have moved a step closer due to a ‘flight corridor’ being created near Reading
The move still needs to be rubber-stamped by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but it hoped to be live next year in the first large-scale trial of its kind.
Small parcels, medical supplies and blood or tissue samples are examples of the kind of packages that could be delivered via drones in the controlled area.
Under current rules, drones must be flown away from built-up areas, within a pilot’s visual range, usually up to 1,600ft, and cannot soar higher than 400ft to avoid other aircraft.
However, the new system created by Altitude Angel, an aviation technology company based in Reading, monitors every drone movement and gives them the freedom to fly.
The air traffic control system will be created by using radar and multiple tracking sensors within the corridor.
Drone operators can send instructions such as ‘change flight path, hold, return or land’ but the control system is then able to intervene if the request is not followed for whatever reason.
The system will initially be tested using two drones, travelling in either direction simultaneously, before then being scaled up to create four drone lanes going each way and two or three highways at different altitudes.
Richard Parker, founder and chief executive of Altitude Angel, told the paper: ‘The size of this step cannot be underestimated.
‘Beyond visual line of sight automated flight in unrestricted airspace is a very significant barrier to overcome in order to realise the vision of mass-commercial drone usage.’
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ANDREW MARR tells how moral values of the Elizabethan age can lift us from our travails today
Tuesday, June 2, 1953: Coronation Day. With London decked out to celebrate its 27-year-old Queen, there was only one story in town. Or rather, two.
Just four days earlier, with perfect timing, two men, hacking through the snow, had made it to the top of the world’s highest mountain. Edmund Hillary was a tall Kiwi beekeeper with a huge, goofy smile. And his companion, Tenzing Norgay, was a devout Buddhist who had lived a life of profound physical poverty as a mountain bearer.
Reaching the summit of Mount Everest was, in the early 1950s, an extraordinary achievement. So all Britain was keeping one eye on this record-breaking attempt. But would they be aware of their Herculean achievement by the time the new monarch was crowned?
That responsibility fell to the young correspondent of The Times, James Morris, waiting at base camp nearly 18,000ft up. It was Morris, scribbling against the clock, who sent a coded message via a physical runner to the Silk Road village of Namche Bazaar.
From there it went by wireless to the British Embassy in Kathmandu. And so, thanks to Morris, The Times had its story in time for a Coronation special, to inaugurate what people called the new Elizabethan age.
Cheer: A party in Northampton marking the Coronation in 1953
It sounds like a tale from a vanished era of old-fashioned heroism. But there was a twist. Even at the time, Morris was wrestling with an issue that has since become very familiar. Ever since he was three or four years old, when he remembered sitting underneath his mother’s piano while she was playing Sibelius, he had felt he had been born into the wrong body. He should have been a girl.
So it was that 20 years later, he made the transition from man to woman, first with drugs and then through perilous surgery in Morocco. James Morris, successful journalist, travel writer and historian, became Jan Morris, ditto.
Today, trans rights and gender fluidity are the most fashionable and contentious aspects of Britain’s fractious 21st-century culture wars. But Morris’s story is a reminder that our recent history was never as straightforward as it’s often painted.
It’s also a small example of how, by digging a little deeper into our national history through individual stories, we can recapture some of its lost freshness.
So in my new book, looking at how Britain has changed since the Coronation in 1953, I’ve tried to tell the story of change through the histories of people such as Jan Morris, from explorers and writers to artists, scientists, musicians and entrepreneurs.
It’s easy to caricature the lost world of the 1950s. We’re often told that it was racist, misogynistic and homophobic, and that we lived in a dim, gaslit pre-liberalism.
And there is no doubt that aspects of post-war Britain were dingy.
The food was meagre and tasteless, the cities grimy, the clothes were unflattering, and industrial and domestic smoke hung in the air.
The moral atmosphere could be harshly censorious. This was still the Britain of the school cane, the hangman and the backstreet abortionist, who had wearily seen it all, knocking on the back door with her bag full of knitting needles and vinegar.
It’s easy to caricature the lost world of the 1950s. And there is no doubt that aspects of post-war Britain were dingy
Many single mothers gave up their babies for adoption. Pauline Prescott, then a hairdresser in Chester, had her first child in a Catholic home for unmarried mothers. The baby boy was later adopted by a family living many miles away in Wolverhampton.
She only made contact with him again when he was in his 40s, after a long and honourable military career. By then she was married to Labour’s Deputy Prime Minister. But it was not an unusual story.
The mother of the novelist Ian McEwan had her first baby during the war, while her husband was serving overseas, and placed an ad in her local paper: ‘Wanted, home for baby boy aged one month: complete surrender’. She handed the baby over to a couple at Reading Station. The boy, David Sharp, had a happy childhood and grew up to work as a bricklayer.
He lived a few miles away from the famous novelist, without either knowing about the other’s existence for half a century. It is an extraordinary story, but not as rare as we might think.
And yet a moment of common sense reflection tells us that the British of the early years of the Queen’s reign must have lived their lives in full colour, not black and white.
The young were brimming with youth. Every variety of sexual experimentation was vigorously attempted. And despite the newsreel depictions of an endless grey winter, spring kept coming around more or less on time every April.
The mother of the novelist Ian McEwan had her first baby during the war, while her husband was serving overseas, and placed an ad in her local paper
Britons may have more rights today, and be wealthier materially. But I don’t believe that necessarily makes us happier, more fulfilled or more virtuous.
Of course, there’s much we have lost. Churchgoing, for example, was once a genuinely collective activity.
Children attended Sunday school, where they were tutored in Bible stories and Christian morality. Their parents sat through sermons. Vicars, ministers and priests made regular visits to homes all over Britain, unannounced but expected.
But Christianity’s influence has endured, not least in our politics. Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a Methodist lay preacher; Tony Blair converted to Catholicism after leaving office; Gordon Brown is the son of a Church of Scotland minister; Theresa May is an Anglican vicar’s daughter.
And among the rest of us, too, its legacy is far from dead.
Still, there’s no doubt that in the decades immediately after the Coronation, something changed. These were the years of the sexual revolution, the pushing back of the punitive state, the use and tolerance of drugs and an unmistakable decay in the social and religious hierarchies.
It was largely driven by a small group of Left-wing politicians, often inspired by their enthusiasm for America. A good example was the Labour and future SDP politician Shirley Williams, the daughter of the famous 1930s writer Vera Brittain.
Christianity’s influence has endured, not least in our politics. Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a Methodist lay preacher
As a prisons minister in Harold Wilson’s government in 1966, Williams persuaded the authorities to send her to Holloway women’s prison, her identity kept secret. When her cellmates asked what she was in for, she explained that she was ‘on the game’.
It’s hard to imagine one of Boris Johnson’s ministers doing the same today.
Like many of her friends, Williams was inspired by the informality and democratic optimism she had seen in America, and wanted to build a similarly sunny world, without the crabbed, confined divisions of the British class system. But as so often, things didn’t always turn out how the liberal reformers anticipated.
Her friend and colleague Tony Crosland, also an admirer of all things American, dreamed of reforming Britain’s schools on a truly egalitarian basis.
But instead of taking on private schools like his own alma mater, Highgate, he decided to attack the state grammar schools, which had allowed so many working-class children a ladder up.
In a celebrated and notorious scene, he told his wife Susan: ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every f***ing grammar school in England.’
But he failed. Today there are more than 160 selective, state-funded grammar schools left in England.
And the argument about school selection rages on to this day, like a football kicked from one end of the muddy pitch to the other, with no goals being scored.
Perhaps the most underrated change of the 1960s, though, was the collapse of our self-image as the workshop of the world.
Manufacturing had shaped the look, sound, smell and social structure of the country for more than a century.
When the Queen’s reign began in 1952, Britain produced a quarter of the planet’s manufacturing exports. Today we make just two per cent. We were a more sinewy people back then. The world of factory work disciplined generations of British men, toiling on hot and dangerous production lines under the watchful eyes of their managers and shop stewards.
But even as Shirley Williams and Tony Crosland were climbing the political ladder, things were beginning to go wrong.
A good example is the story of Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), then the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, but also famous for its Daimler and Lanchester cars.
Its managing director, Sir Bernard Docker, had succeeded his father Dudley in 1944. He married a Birmingham dance hostess, Norah, who became a national celebrity for her flamboyant, outspoken and provocative style. The doting Docker gave her a series of specially built Daimlers, such as the 1955 Golden Zebra, which sported an ivory dashboard and upholstery covered with zebra skin. As Lady Docker drily explained: ‘Zebra, because mink is too hot to sit on.’
But the Dockers were setting themselves up for a fall. Sir Bernard was spending too much time having fun and not nearly enough on the company.
And at a tumultuous meeting in London on a rain-soaked spring day in 1956, he was sacked as chairman for his extravagant expenses claims.
But it was too late. With its market share falling, BSA was sliding towards disintegration.
Daimler was sold to Jaguar four years later. By 1972, overtaken by cheaper and more reliable Japanese competitors, even the motorcycle business was defunct.
Not all British businesses fared as badly as BSA. The success of entrepreneurs such as James Dyson should remind us that we’re still the sixth largest economy in the world, with our GDP per capita about level pegging with the French and not very far behind Germany.
And in other ways, British innovators have changed the world. Think of Gerald Durrell, whose revolutionary zoo changed the way we think about animal welfare; or Anita Roddick, whose Body Shop led the charge for a more ethical capitalism.
But if we’re to thrive after Brexit, we’ll need to banish any trace of the Dockers’ complacency.
Our industries will need to be hungrier and harder, and take inspiration from our undoubted success in cultural and creative areas, and our ingenuity in computing and engineering.
Yet when I look back across our Queen’s reign, I’m reminded that there’s more to life than making money — important as that is. This has been the age of market values. Relentless consumers, we’ve been schooled to see most of our human exchanges in terms of price and profit. Too often we measure success by wealth, and confuse happiness with cool stuff.
But should we really judge our happiness by what we consume —holidays, consumer goods, large houses? And if a society comes to judge success by personal wealth, how can it deal with the large majority who will feel forever bruised and excluded?
Finishing this book during the coronavirus lockdown, I watched as we rediscovered the common notions of fairness, decency and mutual respect that were so familiar to our 1950s predecessors.
I was inspired by the stories of people like Captain Sir Tom Moore, with his record-breaking walk to raise money for the NHS; or Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer, who raised around £20 million to supply three million meals to vulnerable people, and persuaded the Government to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer.
Here, I believe, is where we can learn from our past selves — from the more consciously moral, frugal, hard-working and optimistic Britain Jan Morris knew so well.
I was inspired by the stories of people like Captain Sir Tom Moore, with his record-breaking walk to raise money for the NHS
Yes, it was in many ways bigoted and rigidly hierarchical. But a decent future means taking the best of the past, ditching the mistakes and starting again.
Today, we have to learn to work harder, while being more generous in our global outlook, kinder to neighbours who look and sound different to ourselves, and more restrained in our personal tastes.
Does that sound impossibly pious? Or simply impossible? Then we should remember the struggles and achievements of our grandparents and parents. They were there first. They can teach us still.
n Elizabethans by Andrew Marr is published by William Collins £20. © Andrew Marr 2020. To order a copy for £17, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Offer price valid until October 3, 2020.
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US farming is tasteless, toxic and cruel – and its monstrous practices have no place here
British farming and food production are a remarkable success story. In recent years, this sector has been at the forefront of a revolution that’s transformed the quality of our food — and acted as a guardian of our countryside.
Through the vision and dedication of our farmers, Britain is increasingly a global leader in animal welfare, environmental protection and high standards of produce. Now all these achievements are at mortal risk. As we prepare to leave the European Union at the end of this year, our impressive agricultural system could soon be wrecked by ruthless competition and a flood of cheap imports.
The most serious threat comes from the U.S., whose vast and unwieldy farming industry is far less regulated than ours.
In the name of efficiency, it has built a highly mechanised, intensive and shockingly cruel approach which keeps animals in conditions so appalling it’s hard for us in the UK to grasp. Meanwhile, an arsenal of chemicals that are banned here are also deployed on these poor creatures.
It is not the sort of produce that should be allowed to swamp our own. When Brexit supporters spoke of ‘taking back control’, they did not envisage the destruction of British farming caused by mass-produced goods soaked in chlorine and cruelty.
In an attempt to prevent this grim eventuality, a last-ditch battle is under way at Westminster aiming to establish essential safeguards in post-Brexit Britain.
It’s all part of Britain’s deep and enduring compassion for animals. We have 25 million free-range hens here, more than any other country — and more free-range pigs than anywhere in Europe
As the Agriculture Bill — which sets out a new domestic, post-Brexit alternative to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy — makes its way through Parliament, MPs in the Commons and peers in the Lords have tried to impose amendments to keep Britain’s high standards of animal husbandry and environmental care. So far the Government has rejected all such proposals. Desperate to reach a trade deal, ministers seem unwilling to block the hugely influential U.S. food and agriculture lobby from gaining access to our market.
Their argument is that, in the brave new world of deregulation, consumers will enjoy more choice and, crucially, will have access to ‘cheap’ food. But cheapness will come at a huge cost to our health, our countryside, our rural economy and our animals.
The reality is that choice will be restricted — because British farmers and producers will find it impossible to compete. From the supermarkets to takeaways, this ugly juggernaut of American food will sweep all before it.
The Agriculture Bill is about to go to the final stage of its passage through Parliament. There is one last chance for legislators to stop a free-for-all from which our agriculture would emerge the loser.
As someone who has covered the food industry for 20 years presenting The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4, I am deeply alarmed at the prospect of the advances British food has made in recent decades going into reverse.
Before Covid, British food was flourishing as never before. I think of the surge in high-quality bakeries, of our farmhouse cheeses beating rivals across the world — we produce more than France.
Even McDonald’s UK now uses free-range eggs and organic milk and recently won an RSPCA award for its animal welfare standards. I need hardly say it’s not how McDonald’s operates in the U.S.
It’s all part of Britain’s deep and enduring compassion for animals. We have 25 million free-range hens here, more than any other country — and more free-range pigs than anywhere in Europe.
In frequent talks with farmers, I have been struck by how they see themselves, not just as producers, but as custodians of the land, a vital role they fill with imaginativeness in an age of mounting concern about climate change.
The U.S. farming model is completely different. Its aim is not to work with nature but to dominate it. Industrialised and chemicalised, the entire system is a monument to the denial of biology.
I am not in any way anti-American — I’ve lived across that wonderful country in Indiana, California, Massachusetts and New York. I’m married to an American: my son and his family live in Pennsylvania.
It’s precisely because I visit regularly, and have seen at first hand the harshness of U.S. food production, that I feel so strongly.
The ‘chlorinated chicken’ has rightly become a symbol of U.S. farming at its worst, but few ask why poultry has to be washed in chlorine before it can be sold. It is because the birds are kept in such over-crowded squalor and so pumped with chemicals during their brief, unfortunate lives.
The same applies throughout American industry. Even the British Government’s farming Secretary George Eustice has admitted U.S. animal welfare law is ‘woefully deficient’. Pigs are reared in grotesquely inhumane battery farms. More than 60 million are treated with the antibiotic Carbadox, which promotes growth and is rightly banned in the UK.
Similarly, U.S. cattle are fed steroid hormones to speed growth by 20 per cent — the use of such chemicals has been illegal in Britain and the EU since 1989. And as the cattle are kept in vast confined feeding pens, they need regular antibiotics.
Incredibly, some staff processing carcasses at huge meatpacking plants wear nappies because they are not allowed time off to go to the lavatory. In arable production, pesticides are used on a scale far beyond anything in Britain. In recent decades, the U.S. has banned or controlled just 11 chemicals in food, cosmetics and cleaning products — the EU has banned 1,300.
Polar opposites: Cows in a British field, and in beef pens in Texas
In U.S. farming there’s almost no effort to mitigate climate change yet here the National Farmers’ Union is committed to achieving zero carbon production by 2040. What will happen to that commitment if cheap U.S. food floods in?
The U.S. genetically modified crops to be resistant to Roundup weedkiller — but after weeds grew resistant to Roundup and flourished, one U.S. farmer told me proudly crops were now engineered to be resistant to the infamous Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the U.S. military to kill vegetation in the Vietnam War.
Environmental devastation and health problems — including disabilities to as many as a million people — were caused in Vietnam by Agent Orange. Is this a road we want to go down in Britain?
The so-called cheapness of American produce is a delusion. These farming methods carry a heavy price in quality and health. A battery chicken is tasteless compared to an organic one, just as factory-farmed salmon has nothing of the flavour of wild.
Cheap, low quality foods have brought with them disturbing health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The coronavirus crisis proved the need for resilient supply lines. But that cannot be achieved if we ruin our own domestic agricultural system and become reliant on imported food.
In World War II, when the survival of the nation was imperilled, the Government attached huge importance to domestic food output, reflected in the propaganda campaign ‘Dig for Victory’ and the Women’s Land Army. We need that collective spirit today.
It would be stupidity beyond measure to obliterate our farming industry for a short-term, unbalanced trade deal with the U.S.
A trade deal without agricultural safeguards would be a calamity for British farming and our prosperity. One in eight jobs in Britain is in food supply, while food exports brought in £9.6 billion to the economy. All that will be lost if cut-throat competition prevails.
And a vital part of our heritage will also be lost. From the robust imagery of John Bull as a yeoman squire to William Blake’s Jerusalem, with its evocation of our ‘green and pleasant land’, the countryside has always held a central place in our national soul. It must not be sacrificed on the altar of illusory cheapness or trans-Atlantic subservience.
n Sheila Dillon presents BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
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