Farm Exports Could be Sticking Point for US-EU FTA
As negotiations over a pro- posed free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and EU prepare to kick-off this summer, lawmakers from major agriculture states in the U.S. and others are already making their interests known.
Sen. Max Baucus, (D-MT), who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote in the Financial Times that he will not support any pact that doesn’t provide an equal playing field for U.S. farm exports.
“As chairman of the commit- tee overseeing U.S. trade, I will support a deal only if it gives America’s producers the opportunity to compete in the world’s biggest market,” he stated.
Although the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact would be the biggest trade deal since the WTO was created 20 years ago, issues such as the EU’s ban on genetically modified crops and the use of the feed additive ractopamine could be sticking points once negotiations get underway.
Senate Removes Antibiotics Provision From ADUFA
The U.S. Senate decided against adding a provision to the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) that would have increased reporting on antibiotic sales and their use in animals raised for human consumption.
Advocates for reform were disappointed because they claim increased reporting allows for greater access to information, transparency, and helps the government monitor patterns of antibiotic resistance in livestock.
Antibiotic overuse in food animals has been an issue intensifying in urgency between legislators, microbiologists and activists. The FDA asked for increased measures in the ADUFA that would more accurately track antibiotic use and prevent the development of drug resistant superbugs spreading from food animals to humans.
In 2011, nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics were sold to livestock producers—the largest amount ever recorded and comprising about 80 percent of all antibiotic sales for that year.
I Saw It First! And the Proliferation of Land Grabs
Increased globalization and its requisite for open markets often neglect human rights. This topic is examined in a new study by the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, which looks at the effect of “land grabs,” which are defined as “large-scale purchases or leases of agricultural or forest land on terms that do not serve those already living on that land.” Many factors have driven worldwide land grabs. Two of the largest can be attributed to trade law deregulation and eased restrictions on foreign land ownership.
Countries can also be affected by financial breakdowns such? as the food price crisis in 2007- 2008, or by environmental disasters like the drought in 2012 where the U.S. lost 40 percent of planted corn acres.
In addition, governmental structures can also be a concern. Often land grabs occur in countries that are already in a vulnerable political position, where “institutional capacity” is low or the “investors’ home country is authoritarian.”
New Study Finds Genetically Modified Corn Unsafe
A recent article in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology revisits the safety issue of genetically modified corn. In a recent study, animals fed Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn died a full two years earlier that their counterparts not fed the genetically modified corn and also had increased kidney and liver damage.
Most corn on the U.S. market is genetically modified to be pesticide and insect resistant. Monsanto’s variety, produced in Brazil, is also treated with herbicides. A new strain developed by the company—called Roundup Ready sweet corn—was developed specifically as a foodstuff and is already on grocers’ shelves.
Calls by the American Medical Association for further safety testing on genetically modified foods have so far gone unheeded. Furthermore, consumers do not have a general labeling standard by which they can determine if a product they are purchasing has been genetically modified or not.
Foster Farms Receives Humane Animal Certification