The bipartisan hostility directed at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been focused on the impact trade deals have on middle class working families. Last week in the final presidential debate, both candidates reiterated their opposition to the TPP. And this deal, the largest trade deal in history, is so toxic that Congress isn’t planning a vote on the deal until after the election in November.
But the TPP is a real kitchen table issue that will affect all Americans. While the TPP would cost U.S. jobs, worsen growing economic inequality and give foreign companies the power to sue the United States over environmental and public health laws, its effects will be felt even closer to home if passed—on our dinner plates.
Today, Food & Water Watch released a new report, “Toxic Buffet: How the TPP Trades Away Seafood Safety,” presenting new unique data that demonstrates how the controversial trade deal will undermine seafood safety in the United States, giving us even more reason to oppose its passage.
We examined a decade of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) import, inspection and rejection data from 2006 to 2015 and found that, while 94 percent of American seafood is imported, only two percent of imports are examined by safety inspectors. As a result, nearly 5.4 billion pounds of uninspected seafood entered out food supply last year.
Half the seafood we import is raised in high-density fish farms—not caught by fishing boats. The conditions of these factory fish farms, often over-crowded and unsanitary, are a recipe for disease and infection. Fish farms in countries like Malaysia and Vietnam (both members of the TPP) often seek to combat disease by using veterinary drugs and antibiotics that are banned in the United States—and the TPP would only increase imports from these countries, overtaxing our already-overburdened border inspectors.
The TPP also puts our regulatory standards at risk. The TPP would also allow exporting countries to challenge U.S. seafood standards as illegal trade barriers, making it harder for inspectors to protect us from banned drugs that pose a health risk to humans. This means that Vietnam or Malaysia could challenge and weaken the FDA’s “red list” or banned veterinary drugs.
The TPP will send more and likely riskier seafood, making it harder for U.S. inspectors to find the tainted needles in the growing haystack of imported seafood. That’s not a trade deal for the twenty-first century—it’s a guarantee that suspicious seafood lands on our kitchen tables. That’s why we’re calling on Congress to protect our food and reject the TPP.