Chinese imported frozen berries linked to a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW has led to a national call for stronger food safety regulation and country of origin labelling.
However under the new China Free Trade Agreement and pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), this could be unfeasible. Friends of the Earthâ€™s Fair Trade spokesperson, Sam Castro said â€œlike other similar trade agreements the TPP could make it impossible to set higher standards on imported foods or labelling, because labelling regulation can be deemed a â€˜barrier to tradeâ€™.â€
â€œThe Investor State Dispute Settlement process included in the China Free Trade Agreement enables foreign corporations with the ability to sue the government for legislation that may harm future profits. We know Philip Morris is currently suing the Australian government for our cigarette plain packaging legislation, the same could happen if the government decides to enact stronger food safety and labelling laws,â€ explainedÂ Ms Castro.
â€œThese trade agreements are a Trojan Horse that threaten our food safety and environment. Trade officials, whose primary objective is to increase trade and boost corporate profits, will have first say over future food safety rules. A trade agreement is not the place to decide about our food safety.â€
â€œThe TPP trade agreement is currently being negotiated in secret with 12 other countries, including the US, Chile and Malaysia. Â We call on the federal government to release the text of the agreement so the public and health professionals can properly assess the impact it will have on health and safety standards. We have a right to knowâ€ said Ms Castro.
The European Union has recently committed to publicly releasing the text of a similar trade agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).Read Friends of the Earthâ€™s analysis of the TTIPâ€™s impact on Food Safety. Unfortunately as the Australian government is keeping the text of the TPP trade agreement a secret, Friends of the Earth is not able to conduct a similar analysis here in Australia. We call on the Australian government to stop the secrecy and not to trade away our food safety.