Food Safety Concerns Due to EU-US Free Trade Talks

Written by | Friday, January 24th, 2014

Berlin hosted a meeting of food security experts earlier this week who expressed their concerns about the consequences of the EU-US free trade agreement-to-be on food safety especially with respect to chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef, and genetically modified foods. Especially small farmers fear that the free trade deal might result in “the race to bottom” due to softening European food security. Liberalization of food industry would likely imply more competition due to American agriculture and food companies.
The European Union and the United States have been negotiating a grand free trade agreement, which is to become the biggest free trade area globally. The mutual trade between the two amounts to about 40 percent of the entire global economic output and if talks are successful, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be signed by the end of this year. By then, both partners will have had to agree on a myriad of issues including setting out common rules and regulations on everything ranging from food safety through automobiles to financial and banking regulations.
Reportedly, many of the sensitive issues that are being discussed concern agriculture. For instance, Brussels currently does not permit imports of either American poultry disinfected with chlorinated water or beef treated with artificial growth hormones. The EU also strictly controls genetically modified foods, which have a quite long tradition of production and consumption in the United States. The EU does not support GM food due to ecological considerations and health impacts as well as the corporate ownership of animal and plant DNA.
In other areas, like data privacy protection, many Europeans worry that the TTIP could excessively boost corporate interests of food multinationals which could in turn harm the consumers’ interests. As part of the ‘Green Week’ taking place between 16-26 January, about 30,000 protesters gathered in Berlin to lobby for a cleaner, greener, and GM-free agriculture with the TTIP being a top target of many of such demonstrations.

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