Perdue stresses science-based decision-making in Europe

The Hagstrom Report
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue delivers his speech Monday during the World Food Day Ceremony at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.
The Hagstrom Report |

In a call to reporters from Spain on the last day of his week-long trip to Europe, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he stressed the importance of science-based decision-making in his conversations with counterparts in the United Kingdom during a stop in London, with the European Union at the Group of Seven (G-7) conference in Bergamo, Italy, and with international officials at World Food Day in Rome.

Perdue noted that, despite the United Kingdom’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, the country is still a member of the EU and said several months must pass before the United States can negotiate with UK officials about a post-Brexit trade agreement.

Perdue said he told the British officials that the frequent statements in the UK that U.S. chicken is bathed in chlorine are inaccurate because that is no longer a common practice among U.S. poultry companies. The United States, he said, wants to make deals “based on sound science” and not “on perceived myths.”

Perdue also said at the G-7 meeting he held bilateral meetings with most of his European counterparts and expressed his “frustration we have with very cordial relations on a bilateral basis” and then they “crawl back under the EU flag” and indicate they cannot make changes due to EU rules.

At World Food Day in Rome, Perdue said he stressed the importance of science-based decision-making to achieve global food security.

Perdue noted he had visited a Costco store in Madrid today and was told that Europeans like American food. The perception that Europeans don’t want American food is “a myth perpetuated” by officials, Perdue said.

He expressed frustration that due to restrictions on imports, Europeans can buy such products as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Kellogg’s Fruit Loops cereal only if they are manufactured in Europe.

A Kraft executive told The Hagstrom Report several years ago that Kraft in Europe assures its customers its products contain no genetically modified ingredients.

“There is not this ‘ugly American’ attitude you read about,” mostly in the U.S. press, Perdue said. “They are very friendly.”

“We need a communication campaign directly to the people of Europe,” he added. ❖