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Leaked Trade Deal Chapter Fails to Shed Much Light on Food Safety Concerns

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Food Safety page.

Last week, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy leaked a draft chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union. The chapter proposed by the European Commission in June concerns Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues with food safety and animal and plant health.

“This leaked draft T-TIP chapter doesn’t tell us everything about where negotiations are headed on food safety, but it tells us enough to raise some serious concerns,” wrote IATP’s Steve Suppan in an analysis of the document.

The first objective listed in the chapter is to facilitate trade “to the greatest extent possible while preserving each Party’s right to protect animal or plant life or health in its territory and respecting each Party’s regulatory systems, risk assessment, risk management and policy development processes.”

The second is to ensure that SPS measures “do not create unjustified barriers to trade.” Consumer advocates worry that this provision will be used to undermine food safety, environmental, public health and labor standards.

Other objectives include improving communication and cooperation on SPS measures, improving predictability and transparency of each party’s SPS measures, and reaching a common understanding concerning animal welfare standards.

Two of Suppan’s key concerns about the chapter are that it supports doing away with port-of-entry food inspections and testing requirements and that it could make it more difficult to restrict imports from countries with animal diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.”