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Alfalfa farmer and CFS Plaintiff
The Food Safety Trade-Off: Why it is So Important a Progressive Victory Stopped the TPP
By: Debbie Barker, International Programs Director
November 16th, 2016
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New Report from CFS shows how trade agreements like TPP serve up an “unsavory dinner”

Most discussion about trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, focuses on jobs and economic indicators, but there is little discussion about the impacts on our dinner plate. Although it appears that the U.S. Congress will not ratify the TPP, current trade agreements pose a threat to food safety and public health. And future trade rules under a Trump Administration could also likely include trade rules modeled on agreements like the TPP.

TPP and other trade agreements contain expedited and relaxed trade rules that make it easier for goods to be traded among partner countries, despite the risks – food safety and otherwise – that may be involved. Thanks to years of opposition and protest from progressive organizations and coalitions, including Center for Food Safety (CFS), TPP will not go into effect.

Given some of the grave implications for farmers, food safety and public health, this is a huge victory for the food movement. But it is not the end. We must continue to oppose deals like the TPP that have the potential to wreak real havoc on farmers, farm workers, and our food system; continue implementing the Food Modernization Act; and advocate for rigorous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) border inspections. A new report from CFS, TPP Serves Up an Unsavory Dinner, illustrates how trade agreements such as the TPP and our current lax food safety regulations impact what’s on your plate:

  1. 1) Toxins and drugs and hairs, oh my: Food imports already coming from TPP countries have been found to contain residues from drugs that are illegal in the U.S., toxic contaminants, salmonella and other pathogens, and additional unsavory substances such as rodent hairs. 
  2. 2) Inspector, who? Expedited trade rules in the TPP will increase food imports, yet provide no resources to expand food inspection at the border. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects less than two percent of foods coming into the U.S.!
  3. 3) Follow the $$... Producers in several TPP countries are able to sell products more cheaply than in the U.S., in part because of lax or non-existent safety, quality, and inspection standards and practices. This puts U.S. farmers and producers out of business.
  4. 4) Oh the (in)humanity! Labor trafficking is a well-documented practice in some TPP countries, particularly in the seafood industry, where labor conditions are brutal, dangerous, and inhumane.[1]
  5. 5) See the forest through the trees: Unsustainable agricultural and food production practices in some TPP countries gravely impact the environment. For example, some TPP countries are destroying mangrove regions to make way for fish and shrimp farms. Mangroves are central to protecting coastal zones from dramatic storms and weather, and also play a vital role in water filtration and carbon sequestration.

How can we avoid having our food supply, health, environment, and food and farm workers impacted by TPP and similar trade deals?

Start by getting educated! Take a deeper dive into our new report, TPP Serves Up An Unsavory Dinner, where you can read some disturbing case studies involving toxic honey, tainted meat and produce, unsafe seafood, sullied spices, and rice ridden with pesticides. Even though the TPP will not be enacted, this report outlines how current food imports pose threats to food safety and public health.

TPP was not the model of a trade agreement for our food, farmers and future. Center for Food Safety remains dedicated to ensuring that trade rules are rooted in respect for farmers and farmworkers, and the health of our planet and people.



[1] http://uscatfish.com/asian-seafood-producers-use-slaves-coerced-labor-supply-u-s/ 

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