Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.—“Late last night, the Republican leadership released legislation to fund the federal government, but hidden in the 2,000-plus pages are a handful of odious policy riders that Congress will need to fix next year. The legislation provided full funding to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and increased funding for the meat and poultry inspection agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the president’s budget request, an increase Food & Water Watch advocated for during the appropriations process.
“Some of the highlights are what is not included in the legislation— it did not prohibit states from implementing GMO labeling laws and it did not block the USDA from protecting farmers from unfair contract terms (the GIPSA rider that has been in the appropriations bills for four years).
“The legislation included labeling for the controversial and recently approved GMO salmon. It also banned chicken processed in China from school lunches and federal nutrition programs and included a provision requiring stronger assessments when the USDA determines if exporting countries have adequately addressed animal diseases like foot and mouth disease.
“Unfortunately, Congress bowed to pressure from the meatpackers and repealed country of origin meat labels (COOL) for beef and pork in order to obey the dictates of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling. Congress willingly kowtowed to international trade tribunals to gut COOL and even tossed out the labels for ground meats that the WTO ruled were totally trade-legal—a holiday gift to the meatpacking industry from Congress.
“The COOL rider demonstrates that these international trade deals can and do overturn U.S. laws and should prompt Congress to reconsider any support for the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. Next year Congress should revisit this issue and pass legislation to restore mandatory country of origin labels for beef and pork.”
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]