Statement from Patrick Woodall, Research Director and Senior Policy Advocate, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. — “Consumers deserve to know how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could affect the safety of the food they feed their families. Food & Water Watch commends Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) for demanding that the Obama administration release the food safety language in the proposed TPP.
“The controversial trade deal with eleven Pacific Rim nations could erode our capacity to prevent unsafe food imports from entering the U.S. food supply. More imports will mean that a smaller share of imported food and fish will be inspected at the border, while the structural TPP food safety provisions could undermine critical U.S. import surveillance and food safety standards.
“The fish farming (or aquaculture) industry in the TPP partner nations of Vietnam and Malaysia presents a case study in potential problems when trade meets food safety. Both countries have aggressively developed their export-oriented aquaculture industries. But fish farmers in these countries often use veterinary medicines and fungicides that are illegal in the United States to combat disease in overcrowded fish ponds and river cages.
“We know there is a problem with these imports. The Food and Drug Administration only inspects about three percent of seafood shipments from Vietnam and Malaysia, but rejects 16 percent of the shipments it does examine. 13 percent of those are rejected for chemicals and veterinary drugs that are banned for aquaculture use in the United States. The FDA clearly needs to strengthen their scrutiny of aquaculture imports, but the TPP food safety provisions could make it hard to implement and enforce the safeguards necessary to protect American consumers from unsafe fish imports.
“The trade deals of the past decades have played havoc with the ability of governments to protect food safety, and this one is classified. The only way to know if the TPP will pose a threat to commonsense food safety measures is for the White House to release the TPP food safety text.”