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A protest against CETA takes place in Germany. (Photo: campact/flickr/cc)

Yet Another Transatlantic Trade Deal Threatening Food Safety, Groups Warn

CETA will force European farmers to compete with Canadian imports with 'no animal welfare penalties and lower safety standards'

Nadia Prupis

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a controversial trade deal between Canada and the European Union (E.U.), threatens food safety and other consumer standards, according to a new report by a coalition of advocacy groups.

Even as other global trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) fall apart amid failed negotiations, consumers and workers around the world still aren't in the clear. According to Food Safety, Agriculture and Regulatory Cooperation in the Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (pdf), released by groups including the Council of Canadians, War on Want, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, European farmers under CETA will have to compete with Canadian imports while contending with "no animal welfare penalties and lower safety standards."

Meanwhile, corporations will have the ability to address trade disagreements through mechanisms like the Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), also included in the TPP, which allows private companies to sue governments over projected lost profits.

"For the U.K. this is of extra importance, as under CETA's anti-democratic terms, we could still be open to being sued in corporate courts up to 20 years after leaving the E.U.," said War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn.

And these kinds of pro-corporate provisions will serve to perpetuate the same kind of problems as other trade deals, the Council of Canadians explained (pdf).

"This would be yet another blow for European farmers who will now be competing Canadian agribusiness with no animal welfare penalties and lower safety standards," said Maude Barlow, the council's chairperson. "Canada is not the pristine wilderness Europeans imagine with small farms dotting the landscape. Under NAFTA, Canada has shifted towards large-scale agricultural production with half of all food production coming from just five percent of farms."

Moreover, CETA was negotiated prior to Britain's decision to leave the E.U.; in the wake of Brexit, tariff rate quotas for Canadian meat would be "exceedingly high" and impact European farmers "already facing a crisis over low agricultural prices," the report found.

That's especially concerning because, according to the council, Canada is "the third-largest producer of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the world." The country also recently approved GMO salmon, which under CETA could be sold and eaten internationally.

"All over the world, people want more local, sustainable and healthy food, for our economies, our environment and our well-being. CETA takes us in the opposite direction—towards factory farms, unsustainable production, and questionable safety regulations," said Sujata Dey, Council of Canadians trade campaigner, who coordinated the report. "Food is an essential part of our communities and our values. Europeans must know how their regulations could be downgraded before they make a decision on CETA."


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