Farmers deny "muddying waters" on Brazil

The National Farmers' Union has denied accusations it is "muddying the waters" when it comes to EU restrictions on Brazilian beef imports.

Importers and Brazilian authorities reacted angrily to comments by the NFU's president that said the EU decision to restrict Brazilian imports to only those from approved farms would "provide further safeguards for consumers".

Liz Murphy, from the International Meat Trade Association, said: ""This is not a human health issue. All the debate is to do with foot and mouth and that's very important. There are too many people trying to muddy the waters."

However, Anthony Gibson, director of communications with the NFU, said: "We're not suggesting for any moment that there's any threat to consumers associated with Brazilian beef.

"The principle is that traceability is there to protect consumers and farmers from health or animal issues, and while the immediate issue is over foot and mouth disease, there could be something else further down the line.

"BSE could occur anywhere in the world, and who's to say it hasn't cropped up in Brazil and just hasn't been reported.

"We say that whatever standards are put in place should be consistent amongst suppliers of any given market. In this country we seem to say it doesn't matter where its from or how its produced, if its cheap, we'll have it."