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Europe trade deal threatens food safety

Posted May. 21, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Friends of the Earth protests corporate capture of trade policy at USTR stakeholder event

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in Arlington, Virginia, trade negotiators from the United States and the European Union gathered at the George Mason University School of Law to hear public comments about a giant trade deal that is likely to undermine sensible safeguards that protect public health and the environment.

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is being negotiated behind closed doors with input from official advisors to the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, most of whom represent global corporations. This facilitates special interest capture of the negotiating process.

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is being negotiated behind closed doors with input from official advisors to the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, most of whom represent global corporations. This facilitates special interest capture of the negotiating process.

Outside the negotiating venue, public interest groups staged a rally to protest this corporate-driven trade agenda that Friends of the Earth, U.S. called “a race to the bottom approach to food and worker safety.”

Earlier this year, Friends of the Earth and 28 other organizations wrote a letter to Froman expressing concern “over possible measures in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that could have sweeping ramifications for how meat is produced in the United States and EU in coming decades…Rather than an opportunity to raise standards that protect public health and the environment, the meat and feed industries on both sides of the Atlantic are seeking to proliferate destructive practices in the animal agriculture industry with ramifications for other parts of the world.”

Bill Waren, a trade analyst with Friends of the Earth, said that “If global meat and feed industry interests have their way, the U.S. will lower its safety standards for imported beef, leading to an increased risk of mad cow disease in this country.”

The transatlantic deal could prove even more harmful to Europeans. Global meat companies, with a major stake in U.S. meat production, aim to weaken several EU rules that prohibit the use of chemicals, additives and veterinary drugs in meat production. For example, companies are pushing to overturn current rules that prohibit U.S. exports to Europe of chicken soaked in chlorine or other chemical rinses. They are also seeking to end EU restrictions on U.S. exports to Europe of beef and pork treated with growth hormones and additives, such as ractopamine, a powerful compound that can lead to health and behavioral disorders in animals and possibly in humans. Ractopamine is currently banned in 160 countries.

“If these profit-driven demands by global meat companies are accepted, it will undermine efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to make our animal agriculture system more humane, healthy and fair,” Waren said.

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Expert Contact:
Bill Waren, (202) 222-0746, wwaren@foe.org
Communications Contact:
EA Dyson, (202) 222-0744, edyson@foe.org

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