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Daily News Blog

13
Dec

U.S. Asks World Trade Organization to Force Lower International Safety Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2018) The U.S. is pushing back against international standards that restrict pesticides by appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene. At issue are new EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) on food for the following pesticides: buprofezin, diflubenzuron, ethoxysulfurom, ioxynil, molinate, picoxystrobin and tepraloxydim.

Advocates are concerned that a U.S. challenge to stronger EU standards could cause the WTO to force a weakening of standards internationally. Most significantly, EU proposed lowering its MRLs on imports. The EU said lower MRLs are needed to protect consumers, as research shows pesticides are shown to be carcinogenic, and that, contrary to chemical-industry claims, no level of allowable exposures can be assumed. Taking issue with the new MRLs – as with all other STCs mentioned above – the U.S. said new MRLs would cause barriers to trade, and therefore, must be rejected by the WTO. Advocates point to the introduction of GMOs as an example of the U.S. using the WTO to block standards that restrict potentially hazardous products.

Recently, the U.S. has been involved in four of five new specific trade concerns (STCs) raised before WTO. As part of reviewing the current agreement of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary – which works to ensure protections for humans, animals and plants while avoiding barriers to trade – one STC the U.S. disliked was the Vietnamese National Assembly’s Livestock Production Law. The proposed livestock law would impose an import ban on livestock products produced with the use of chemicals prohibited for domestic production in Vietnam.

The U.S. also expressed its dislike of an EU Court of Justice decision on “mutagenesis” – a process of inducing mutagenic changes –requiring that all organisms obtained through mutagenesis undergo the same risk assessment and review requirements, labeling, monitoring and traceability laws as those imposed on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

The EU has shown time and time again that it will enact stricter pesticide regulations than the U.S. Back in 2005, (EU) environment ministers agreed to uphold five national bans on GMOs. However, the U.S. once again claimed bans on GMOs were barriers to trade and must not be honored. “[EU countries] are overwhelmingly opposed to GM food,” said Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner Emily Diamand in 2005, “[It] is outrageous that [the U.S. government] should try and stop other countries saying no to GM.”

In her book Stolen Harvest: The hijacking of the global food supply, Vandana Shiva, PhD, says, “The right to food, the right to safety, the right to culture, are all being treated as trade barriers that [for the continuation of the WTO] need to be dismantled.” Dr. Shiva continues, “[The WTO’s] Agreement on Agriculture legalizes the dumping of genetically-engineered foods on countries and criminalizes actions to protect the biological and cultural diversity on which diverse food systems are based.”

Whether by releasing GE/GMOs or rejecting the EU’s lower MRLs, advocates believe the move is the latest in a series of attempts by the U.S. to block other countries’ decisions to protect their environment, human health and social standards. Consequently, the WTO takes power away from the people and their local governments and allows corporations to overpower them. This is done all in the name of free trade, or what Dr. Shiva deems “forced trade.”

This holiday season, start your own local movement. Talk with your friends and family about sourcing foods from local organic farms. Talk with grocery store owners about where they source their produce, reminding them how organic food consumption lowers cancer risk. Request that they support local organic farmers and follow up to ensure progress is made. Live by the mantra “Think Globally, Act Locally” because, as Dr. Shiva states, “This food totalitarianism can only be stopped through major citizen mobilization for democratization of the food system.”

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Food Safety News

 

 

 

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