There has been an onslaught on halal certified meat over the past week or so. The discussion is not new but for some reason the forces ranked against “halal” have united and making a concerted effort to marginalise Islam. They say theirs is not a “crusade” but to those of us watching what else can it be?
My respect would increase if those attacking Islam would just admit that may be, just may be, a genuine lack of knowledge is underpinning a fear of the unknown. “Islamophobia” could not be a more apt word. Phobia irrationale fear. Call me a reformed Islamophobe if you will. Like a reformed smoker I may have become a zealot. Well, so what? Someone has to challenge the misperceptions.
The current battle was probably sparked by the British Veterinary Association’s incoming president coming into land with all guns ablaze. Non-stun was going to be banned. This is a man with a life science background and a professional who should be listening to the arguments. If his opponents, in religious slaughter experts, are wrong he must back his argument with the robust science that supports well the case for non-stun – when done properly in a proper place. Above all he needs to debate with them and when that has failed approach pparliament and the media. But No.
The Associate Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare wanted to unpick this debate. It has been known for some time that “humane” stunning procedures used by Secularists (and Christians) fail in up to 30% of cases. The data is not up to date and is probably nearer 5% but the truth is no one really knows. There wasn’t standard data collection tool for EU countries. The European Food Standards Agency was discussing this as late as last December.
The UK FSA provided a written reply to the APGAW’s request for data on the rate of mis-stuns Iin UK slaughterhouses. The data was presented in a simple table. To be honest the figures looked brilliant. The BVA took the figures and calculated, correctly, that the rate of mis-stuns was 0.0004%. In the world of human medicine this would be negligible.
Let’s unpick the FSA data. How was it collected? What methodology was used? Has the methodology be subjected to a peer review in the public domain. All these questions and more would be asked of any clinical trial for a new medicine or surgical procedure claiming superior treatment outcomes.
John Blackwell and colleagues, all life science professionals, are more than able to scrutinise the data but here’s a thing. The FSA data covered four or five years. It was known that the data were so good relative to what known before that they have not been placed in the public domain. That prompted me to ask questions.
It’s now dawning on me that if someone was trialling a new drug or surgical procedure for use in human medicine the trial would stopped early if unequivocal data should truly unimaginable benefits.
In this case, compared to all other EU countries, if the UK had such a superior outperformance the European Commission, or whoever, would have no option but to ban cross border trade in meat until every country had brought its standards up to UK standards. Indeed if animal welfare were unerpinning the current debate the UK would have long since banned the import of all meat without waiting for the EU.
There is no ban. Why? Be
cause the data does not support the BVA case.
As I say, if this were a clinical trial? If this were a trial objectivity would be a pre-requisite.
As I also say genuine ignorance and lack of knowledge is driving this debate. No one is chairing it and it’s getting out of hand.