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Hawai'i CFS

TPP Deal Jeopardizes Food Safety and Public Health

February 03, 2016
Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety urges Congress to oppose trade deal

WASHINGTON, DC—Center for Food Safety today condemned New Zealand’s signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which would lower food safety standards and public health protections in the U.S. and across the globe. The deal was negotiated by 12 Pacific countries, including the U.S., representing around 40 percent of the global economy. Center for Food Safety is calling on Congress to oppose the deal and not ratify it in the U.S.

“This trade agreement will set food safety and environmental standards back decades,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “It will be a race to the bottom as governments are forced to sacrifice food safety regulations in order to appease multi-national corporations. We will join with our allies from labor to environmental groups to ensure that this treaty is not ratified by Congress.”

One of the most concerning aspects of the TPP is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, an extrajudicial legal body that allows private corporations to sue national governments over rules that companies believe inhibit their profit-making ability.  Any U.S. food safety rules on GMOs, labeling, pesticides, animal drugs, or additives that TPP member nations believe violate the agreement could be subject to challenge as "illegal trade barriers."

“This closed-door tribunal where attorneys can rotate between acting as judges and as advocates for investors is where corporations will test the language and intent of the TPP agreement,” said Debbie Barker, international programs director at Center for Food Safety. “History shows us that corporations use these trade courts to lower standards on food safety, the environment, and workers.  If Congress ratifies TPP it will be handing over more power to corporations and abandoning its duty to safeguard people.”

Center for Food Safety, along with other experts, have warned that the agreement compromises food safety and public health, most notably through measures pertaining to U.S. border inspection of food imports. The agreement limits food import inspections “to what is reasonable and necessary,” and—perhaps most alarming—requires border inspectors to notify food importers if a negative food safety check is issued so they can challenge the port inspection findings. This measure, known as the Rapid Response Mechanism, which was aggressively pushed by big food industry throughout the TPP negotiations, gives new rights to countries importing food into the U.S. and could potentially include the right to challenge even laboratory food safety testing and the new food import rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act. The TPP language could also dissuade rigorous oversight of imported foods, including inspection of fish imported from TPP member countries that raise farmed fish with chemicals and antibiotics not allowed in the U.S. 

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