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The Secret Obama Trade Deal That Could Destroy US Food Safety

Image source: Reuters

Image source: Reuters

President Obama is negotiating a secret trade agreement that could allow foreign-produced food that does not meet US safety standards to reach grocery store shelves.

That’s what critics say about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), which they say also could end food labeling and restrict USDA inspection of imported food.

“Under the TPP [1], any U.S. food safety rule on pesticides, labeling or additives that is higher than international standards would be subject to challenge as ‘illegal trade barriers,’” a press release from the organization Public Citizen states. “The U.S. could be required to eliminate these rules and allow in the unsafe food under threat of trade sanctions.”

The TPP [2] is a massive deal that would lift a wide variety of trade barriers between a 12 countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, Peru and Chile. Critics are worried because the deal was negotiated secretly [3] in Ottawa last year.

If members of the House or Senate want to read the document, they must sign a nondisclosure agreement that carries criminal penalties if they say what’s in it.

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Why Does Obama Want to Keep TTP Secret?

Even Michael Wessel, an advisor to President Obama during 2008, is worried about the secrecy associated with the TPP.

“We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal — and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice,” Wessel wrote in an op-ed for Politico. Wessel has seen the contents of the deal but he cannot talk about them publicly because of the nondisclosure agreement.

How TPP Could Undermine Food Inspection

made in china chicken petition

Image source: granny-miller.com

Public Citizen detailed how TPP could effectively gut US and Canadian Food regulations and strip the US and Canadian governments of their power to regulate imported food:

New York Times food writer Mark Bittman said the trade deal “would certainly weaken food safety.”

“For example, more than 90 percent of our seafood is imported, a figure that includes fish that were caught domestically and sent overseas for processing before coming back in, which makes the inspection process even more complicated,” Bittman wrote. “All told, that’s more than five billion pounds of imports annually, and according to the Center for Food Safety, just 90 federal inspectors guarantee its safety. (The Food and Drug Administration inspects less than 2 percent of imported seafood.)

“By reducing restrictions on Southeast Asian imports, the TPP would allow more fish containing chemicals that are illegal in domestic aquaculture to reach our shores; by making inspections less effective, it would virtually guarantee that those chemicals make it to our tables.”

What are your thoughts on the TPP? Share them in the section below:

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