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Beef Deal Will Hurt UK Farmers

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Forest the size of 2,600 Wembley stadiums felled each day in Paraguay, says GMB Union

The Conservative Government is backing an beef deal which will hurt UK farmers, destroy forests and cause calamitous climate change, says GMB.

As Britain sweats its way through an unusually hot summer, the Government continues to back an EU free trade deal with the South American Common Market (Mercosur) that will only worsen the effects of climate change with potentially calamitous results.

A new ITUC backed report [1] on the beef industry in Paraguay highlights its meteoric growth at the expense of original forests that are being felled to make way for the grazing of cattle.

In November last year, an astonishing average of 2,000 hectares of native vegetation was cleared each day, the equivalent of 2,600 Wembley Stadiums.

At least a third of the Chaco region, covering nearly 60% of the country, has already been lost to grassland for the feeding of cattle whose numbers are predicted to reach 20 million within the next decade.

The industry is dominated by Brazilian companies that have received tens of millions of dollars from the World Bank and is characterised by bonded labour, child labour and the virtual enslavement of indigenous people.

None of this has dented the UK government's enthusiasm for a post-Brexit free trade deal with Paraguay, nor has it deterred EU negotiators keen to conclude the agreement with Mercosur, despite the potential for wiping out European beef farms, who, without a hint of irony, have included a chapter on "sustainable development" in the text.  

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, said:  

"This report highlights the disastrous effects on the environment and the potential for calamitous climate change occasioned by the meteoric growth of a Paraguayan beef industry supported by the World Bank and characterised by unacceptable labour practices.

“This has not deterred the European Commission from negotiating a huge free trade agreement with Mercosur, in almost complete secrecy.

“It has been avidly supported by Liam Fox and the UK Government who are keen to develop their own trade links with Paraguay and the other Mercosur countries - Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay)- after Brexit.

“This is despite the negative effects it will have on Britain's own beef farmers.

“EU-Mercosur should be scrapped. It epitomises what is wrong with both EU and UK trade policy and the former's claim that it constitutes 'sustainable development' is simply ludicrous.”


Contact: Bert Schouwenburg on 07974 251764 or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to Editors:

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