Trade negotiations with Canada must not open up the UK market to hormone-treated beef.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, to provide a 'cast iron guarantee' that UK negotiators will not give any ground on the issue of importing beef produced in a way that would be illegal for Scottish farmers.

Mr Carmichael acted in response to remarks made by the Canadian trade minister Mary Ng, in which she suggested that market access for hormone-treated beef would be a priority for Canadian negotiators. Recent trade agreements made with New Zealand and Australia have already been roundly condemned by farming and crofting organisations as undermining the viability of UK agriculture.

“Canadian trade officials have made it clear that they see open access for hormone-treated beef as the price for a new trade deal with the UK," said Mr Carmichael. "We cannot blame them for trying – but we need our own government to close the door on such discussions right away.

“The government needs to learn from the mistakes made with the Australian and New Zealand agreements, which farmers and the farming unions have almost unanimously condemned. There is a real danger that a perception sets in amongst our trading partners that the UK is a pushover where farming issues are concerned.

“Conservative ministers have claimed time and again that they would not undermine food standards or farmers in trade negotiations," he noted. "All we are looking for today is a guarantee from the Trade Secretary that hormone-treated beef will not be flowing into UK markets as a result of negotiations with Canada. If the government intends to live up to its rhetoric then that should not be a hard commitment to make."