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Friday, December 24, 2004

Brussels to the Rescue?

In a story which demonstrates neatly that our national leaders are always capable of competing with Brussels when it comes to stupid regulations, Boris – Apology to Liverpool – Johnson brings us the Saskatoon.
You may not have been aware that the saskatoon is to berries as the Cohiba is to cigars. It is the king of the bush. It is used all over Canada to make jams, syrups, salad dressings and even crème brulée. It turns out, of course, that there is a law against sensible exercise of free trade, whereby British people can eat at breakfast what their kith and kin enjoy in Canada. It is called the Novel Foods Regulation (EC 258/97), and it came into force in this country in 1997, and means that you cannot expect the authorities to accept that a food is safe, just because the Canadian population swears by it.
This is based on the same premise, the precautionary principle, much loved by eurocrats, to stop us making our own choices in life.
Under the Novel Foods Regulation, anything new to the EU market must undergo at least two years of tedious tests and safety demonstrations before it can be put on the shelves.
So a berry that has been eaten by Canadian Natives for centuries, needed two years of tests before we could tell whether they were safe for consumption.
The final absurdity is that the FSA fatwa is about to be unexpectedly overturned – not by Parliament, but by Brussels! The other day the German government decided that there was nothing wrong with the berries, and that the Finns had been eating them for yonks, and under basic EU single market principles, the Saskatoon is therefore deemed fit for consumption in all member states, Britain included.
It shows the state we are in when the unaccountable mandarins of Brussels act with more logic and reasonableness than our own government. But wait a minute; the law is based on an EU regulation. So whilst the idiots responsible for carrying out this ridiculous act are national, the original document was another piece of Brussels Meddling.

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