‘Europeans are too chicken to enter into a free trade agreement with the US’

Here’s an historic opportunity to create the world’s biggest free trade zone in the world. So why is Europe chickening out? asks economist Mathijs Bouman.

The Americans are coming and they are going to poison you. They want you to eat chlorine-sprayed chicken. They also want to stick hormone-ridden cow meat in your sandwich. You will sprout horns within a week. They will force their Frankenstein food on you, made from plants whose dna is manipulated in sinister labs so our tortured earth can be exploited even more.

Should we want this? No, but there’s really not much we can do about it. The new trade agreement with the United States will open the door to every biological aberration the Americans can think of for putting on the market.

Pure chicken

Europe doesn’t want chlorinated chickens. Europeans only want to eat certified unchlorinated European chickens. Give us pure chicken meat with all its living bacteria, we say. The thriving colonies of salmonella and campylobacter on our European chicken breast prove it hasn’t been anywhere near a disinfecting chlorine bath.

Do remember to wash your hands after you handle this meat. Use separate cutting boards and knives and heat the meat thoroughly (use a meat thermometer; it needs to be at least 75 degrees). These preventative measures are quite important. Forget and your stomach and your intestines will remind you. Oh, and if you do get infected, make sure those pesky bacteria don’t enter your blood stream. They will do unpleasant things to your organs and joints. You could become dehydrated, your kidneys could pack in and you could die.

But at least your European chicken will not have been doused in diluted chlorine – you know, the stuff we let out children swim in every summer. Americans eh?


They eat genetically modified corn and soy as well, solely on the basis that there is no scientific proof of their harmfulness. They’re such daredevils! Fortunately here in Europe we are strictly led by fear-mongering about the unproven dangers of GM foods. It’s called the precautionary principle.

Even if Europe were to enter into a free trade agreement, countries would still be able to apply their own food safety rules. But opponents prefer to play the poisoned chicken card and frighten European consumers into a full-blown chlorine phobia.

And thus Europe – not for the first time – spoils its own chances. Here’s an historic opportunity to create the world’s biggest free trade zone. But we don’t want free trade. We prefer chickens with bacteria.

Mathijs Bouman is a macro-economist.

This article appeared earlier in the Financieele Dagblad.


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