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A few years ago, a European bank specializing in agricultural matters reviewed the French broiler industry and predicted its demise due to cheaper imports unless the market switched to a niche model; the same could have been said for most western European countries. And, niche does not have to be exotic or refer to an enriched product. Some might even think that under the niche model we can find ways to protect one’s market by imposing near impossible requirements or at least making imports unlikely.
A few outspoken entities might claim that this has been the realm of the EU, so far, but from my point of view, I see the U.S. not only following suit, but also taking a leading role. First, the “no antibiotics ever” movement, meaning no medication even if the birds become sick, which was not what the EU had in mind when it started controlling antibiotic usage in animals. Then, the inclusion of anticoccidial agents under the term antibiotics (given, this pre-existed to the ban, but no action has been taken now to release at least ionophores to the benefits of the birds; ionophores cause no antibiotic resistance in humans, at least to my knowledge). Finally, what about this new movement towards slower-growing broilers? It remains to be evaluated for its appeal as it is relatively fresh in application, but it is indeed disconcerting, as it comes from a country that has invested heavily towards developing modern broilers to their current performance levels!
No one can disagree that this is beneficial for both the industry and consumers, but is this the only reason such movements are taking place?
As isolated events, the above can be said to be just making the U.S. broiler industry modern by adopting and adapting international norms of good practice. No one can disagree that this is beneficial for both the industry and consumers, but is this the only reason such movements are taking place? At this time, one can only wonder.
Perhaps there will be a time to proclaim an American (OK, U.S.) chicken versus a EU (or place your country’s name here) chicken that cannot be replaced by others due to such “impossible” requirements? Is this the end of globalization by making commodities again a “local” produce? I will not even consider if this is good or bad, but it is impossible not to ponder over the matter.
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