Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Zero Tolerance for Corruption': Grijalva, Porter Demand Answers on Alleged Trump Pardon Bribery Scheme

The Democrats believe a real estate developer donated to a Trump-aligned super PAC in exchange for the pardons of two other men.

Julia Conley ·


Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," peace activist Medea Benjamin said of the new B-21 Raider.

Brett Wilkins ·


Betrayal of Railway Workers Ignites Working-Class Fury Toward Biden and Democrats

"Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic," said one rail leader. "Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class 1 rail carriers every time."

Jessica Corbett ·


With GOP House Control Looming, Pascrell Calls for Swift Release of Trump Tax Records

"Donald Trump tried to hide his tax returns from our oversight but after 1,329 days we have finally obtained the documents," said the New Jersey Democrat. "We should review and release them."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo