Eyes on Trade
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch blog on globalization and trade
What's New – Global Trade Watch
For the latest updates on imported food and product safety, please see the relevant section of our blog, Eyes on Trade.
Testimony: Protecting Public Health in a Global Economy
Read the full testimony (PDF) by Lori Wallach before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA, in which she outlines six key issues regarding imported food safety in the current globalized era.
Consumers Union and Public Citizen: Maintain Ban on Chinese Chicken
On June 2, Consumers Union and Public Citizen submitted a joint letter to President Obama urging the upholding of an existing U.S. ban on processed poultry imports from China. This follows an April letter from agribusiness industry trade associations stating their opposition to this critical imported food safety provision.
Read the full letter here (PDF).
GTW Report: Closing Santa's Sweatshop
The United States is expected to import $23 billion in toys in 2008, 90 percent of that from China. Imports this year represent 90 percent of U.S. toys, which is the highest toy import level and share on record. Many nations producing our children's toys have extremely lax safety standards and enforcement. Yet, while toy imports exploded by 562 percent from 1980 to 2008, the budget of the agency responsible for toy safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), was cut by 23 percent, with staffing cut nearly 60 percent during the same period.
GTW has updated our 2007 toy safety report (see below) with Closing Santa's Sweatshop, which includes updated data and a new section on campaign pledges on import safety made by President Obama and new members of Congress.
Read our press release (PDF) or the full report, Closing Santa's Sweatshop: How to Deliver on Obama's and Congress' Toy Safety and Fair-Trade Promises (PDF).
2007 Report: Santa's Sweatshop: "Made in D.C." With Bad Trade Policy
Check your imported toys! U.S. toy corporations' decisions to shift production to countries with inadequate safety systems - and the trade policies companies pushed through Congress that limit import safety standards and inspection - are the root causes of the imported toy safety crisis. The money manufacturers are saving through labor arbitrage has created soaring profits and CEO salaries at an enormous cost to children’s safety, GTW's report concludes.
Read our press release or the full report, Santa's Sweatshop: "Made in D.C." with Bad Trade Policy (PDF).
CNN Features GTW's Food Safety Report
Report: Trade Deficit in Food Safety
GTW's report reveals how trade agreements, like the recently passed Peru NAFTA expansion and the proposed Panama NAFTA expansion, will worsen imported food and product safety problems.
"Trade" Agreements Undermine Food and Product Safety
Today, nearly $65 billion in food goods are imported into the United States annually – nearly double the value imported when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO) went into effect in the mid-1990s. Contrary to what consumers believe, the vast majority of imported foods that end up on the dinner plates of U.S. consumers is unexamined and untested.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that it will only conduct border inspections on .6 percent of the food that it regulates (vegetables, fruit, seafood, grains, dairy and animal feed) at the border in 2007 - down from an already disconcerting eight percent prior to NAFTA and WTO. FDA data makes clear that Americans are three times more likely to be exposed to dangerous pesticide residues on imported foods than on domestic foods. Only 11 percent of beef, pork and chicken imported so far in 2007 has been inspected at the border by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
As Congress steps up action to address the threat and President Obama begins developing new food safety plans, proposed trade pacts pending before Congress would replicate and lock in limits on the U.S. government's ability to ensure imported food safety. Included in recently passed and pending "Free Trade Agreements" (FTAs) with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea are limits on what safety standards the United States can require for imported foods and how much inspection is permitted. U.S. laws that extend beyond the FTAs' limits that have the effect of limiting access of imported food to the U.S. market are subject to challenge as "illegal trade barriers" before foreign trade tribunals.