Europeans Say ‘No Thanks’ To American Chlorinated Chicken And Hormone Beef

Europeans consumers may get what they are so keenly trying to avoid: chlorinated chicken, beef with hormones and GMOs.
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    A Pilgrim's Pride contract chicken farm full of three-week-old chicks just outside the city limits of Pittsburg, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    A Pilgrim’s Pride contract chicken farm full of three-week-old chicks just outside the city limits of Pittsburg, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    BRUSSELS —When French President François Hollande went to the United States earlier this month in the first state visit by a French president since 1996, he called for a speedy agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    “We have everything to gain from going quickly. Otherwise we know there would be a pileup of fears, of threats, of anxiety,” Hollande told a press conference with President Barack Obama at the White House.

    What the French president kept silent about in his desire to appear as a trustworthy business partner, was the fact that increasing fears about the potential consequences of the TTIP are actually already piling up in several EU countries, starting with his own: from large consumer groups, trade unions, health and environmental organizations to digital rights activists and grassroots campaigns against fracking. There is a growing movement united against the transatlantic trade agreement.

    France is among the European countries where the mobilization against the deal is the strongest. During a debate in the French Senate in January, the government found itself isolated on the topic after facing criticism from speakers from all political sides.

    Food and agriculture appears to be one of the most controversial issues. Jean Bizet, from the center-right opposition UMP, expressed concern about the cheese file, as cheese imports increase in France. Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, from the government’s socialist majority, wondered about potential “huge risks for the European beef and pork production.”

    Worries about potential consequences on food safety are also strong in Germany. A recent report aired on Germany’s public TV broadcaster ARD cited efforts by U.S. lobbyists to circumvent existing EU bans on bleached chicken, growth hormones in beef and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Three foodstuffs that have become the symbols of everything the Europeans do not want to see arriving in Europe. Sanitary criteria being considered as non-tariff barriers to trade, they are likely to be negotiated by the two trade partners though.

    American companies are pushing hard for the European bans to be lifted. Several American poultry and egg associations expressed their hopes a few months ago to gain a better access to EU markets, denouncing “many unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers that severely limit or prohibit the export of certain U.S. agricultural products to the EU.”

    As a result, say the associations, the U.S. has not been able to export poultry to the EU since 1997.

    But “when TTIP negotiations are successfully concluded, U.S. poultry producers look forward to marketing over $500 million of products to the EU on an annual basis,” the associations declared.

    EU’s chief negotiator on the TTIP, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, has sought to allay fears by declaring that food safety standards were non-negotiable.

    “Hormones are prohibited, there is a strict regime of genetically modified organisms and this is not going to go away,” he declared.

     

    Getting rid of food safety standards?

    NGOs following the EU-U.S. talks are skeptical about the reassurances.

    “We know the corporate wish-list for the talks, which mention all the points that the European commission is now calling red lines – from chlorinated chicken to GMO’s,” said Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory .

    According to Eberhardt, several U.S. congress members have said that they are not going to approve a deal that does not open more market access for American agribusiness, including “through getting rid of certain food safety standards.”

    Another major controversial issue is the investor-state dispute settlement. This provision would enable U.S. companies investing in Europe to by-pass European courts and directly challenge host governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection infringe their right to do business or interfere with their profits. EU companies investing in the U.S. would have the same rights.

    The European Commission says that the mechanism is needed to protect foreign investors from unfair treatment at the hands of governments and avoid discrimination in favor of domestic firms.

    Critics retort that investor claims can prevent governments from passing legislation in fields such as environmental and social protection, enabling corporations to ask for potentially unlimited damages in arbitration panels if their profits are adversely affected by new regulations. They also argue that these investment files are tried before business-friendly tribunals composed of corporate lawyers, bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments.

    Some members of the European Parliament – whose support is needed to adopt the final deal brokered by the Commission on behalf of the EU – have already expressed concern about the mechanism.

    “The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism is a massive Trojan horse, which could be used by multinational corporations to whittle away EU standards and regulations across a range of policies from the environment to food safety to social protection,” said French MEP Yannick Jadot, the Greens’ trade spokesman in the European Parliament.

    The opposition to the dispute settlement mechanism has become so intense that the European Commission –  which alleges “unprecedented public interest in the talks” – decided on Jan. 21 to postpone negotiations on this issue.

    European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht announced that he wanted to consult the public on the EU proposed text for the investment protection chapter. The paper, probably not the negotiation text but a summary that the Commission will put together specifically for the consultation, will be published in early March. People across the EU will then have three months to comment.

     

    Chlorinated chicken and hormone beef

    This may be a smart public relations move to dispel concerns without actually moving away from the intended objective. The Commission speaks about an opportunity to “clarify” investor rights and “improve” the investor-state dispute settlement system, not abandon it.

    The European Commission’s consultations tend to be dominated by the corporate sector, the only ones to have the human resources to understand complicated technical dossiers such as this one.

    How would the average citizen respond to questions such as: “If you are concerned by barriers to investment, what are the estimated additional costs for your business (in percentage of the investment) resulting from the barriers?” – asked in the framework of a precedent trade consultation.

    The Commission also stated that “no other part of the negotiations is affected” by the temporary freeze of the negotiations over the investor rights and that “the TTIP negotiations will continue as planned.” In other words, other controversial aspects of the EU-US trade talks – ranging from food safety regulations and data protection to banking regulations – are not addressed.

    This means that another controversial issue will remain unchallenged: a permanent EU-U.S. mechanism for ‘regulatory cooperation’ to assess and possibly adapt new laws and regulations to corporate needs.

    In a report entitled “Regulation – none of our business?” published on Dec. 16, 2013, Corporate Europe Observatory exposes how the proposed Regulatory Cooperation Council would allow businesses to be involved from the beginning in the regulatory process well before any public and democratic debate takes place, thereby having excellent opportunities to oppose important initiatives to improve food standards or protect consumers.

    Such reforms, if adopted, could seriously undermine existing EU rules on food safety, consumer protection, the environment and many other areas as the proposals give new powers to business to call a halt to proposed legislation that conflicts with their interests or to re-negotiate existing regulations.

    “Public outcry shows it might be not possible for EU trade negotiators to brush-off public concern over U.S.-origin GMOs, chlorinated chickens or hormone beef. But even if these products are not included in the negotiation phase of the deal, they could easily be allowed in the long term via this system of regulatory cooperation,” said Kenneth Haar, author of the report.

    In other words, it may well be that in the end the Europeans consumers get what they are so keenly trying to avoid: chlorinated chicken, beef with hormones and GMOs.

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      • Peter

        There are 2 big Questions here?
        1. Why do we as people, allow these MP’s, Senators, Congressmen ect. ect. throughout the world to do what they like? Who puts the people in power anyway, but us the people we vote for them, ISN’T IT TIME WE STOOD UP AND BE COUNTED GET THESE LEADER WHO WE VOTE FOR BY THE BALLS AND SAY NO LISTEN TO US, IT’S OUR WORLD TOO.
        2. Man as gone against all laws natures and the creators laws, in the bible it say in the end times, this and that will happen, it’s happening now. There are two unforeseen powers the light and the dark, who control who/ the dark goes against all the good things it creates Greed, Ignorance, Arrogance, Selfishness Power, Corruption, Dishonesty ect. the main object is control, what have we got. Leaders of the world, top executives, scientist, church leaders, ect. all powerful positions who are in control of the masses, but WHO controls them? The dark side. They are evil people. Yet many say ‘God bless us’.
        When are we going to stand up and become one heartbeat. No we are like sheep or headless chickens.

        These evil power-hungry self-opinionated have controlled society for many thousands of years.
        The USA is full of immigrants, these killed their native Americans, who in fact we more spiritual and caring then the immigrants, likewise Australia, Africa, other parts of the world all had spiritual people. Man through his academic education, which he created, millions have become controlled by the system it’s crated. Scientist have DON’T really know much, many falsify things to keep them in Jobs, get funding, they create all the deadliest thing we have in the world today.

        These people in power are above the line of common sense and caring, they don’t understand LOVE. That’s why we have the vast majority of people in the world suffering, because of the minority who think they have the right to control.
        One day soon, I hope we all wake up, those in control get there just rewards.

      • DWS

        I can’t believe the arrogance of these US corporations! The US has the worst public health in probably the entire industrialised world, despite spending TWICE as much on healthcare – so why on Earth do they think we are going to accept their toxic, nutrient-free, frankenfoods over here?

        I think these governments are very soon going to see what happens when they wake up the sleeping monster of the, as-yet, uninformed public. They can’t rely on TV propaganda any more to confuse and control the masses by manufacturing consent, because we have so many other methods of getting information now. And if they think they can sneak in internet censorship, under the guise of anti-piracy, as a way to stop the dissent and block the truth, then they had better think again. Enough people have woken up already!

        • JP

          I’m an American, and I approve this post. We suck as a country, our government sucks.

          • DWS

            American people are good people, like most people in the world, we all just want to get on with our lives in peace and harmony, not poison each other or the planet, not start wars etc – but the mega rich and the politicians have a different agenda, and, up until recently, they have had the power to influence all the information we see every day via TV, magazines, newspapers, even cinema. They are now running scared because people are starting to figure it out now that so much information is available on the internet, and smart people are able to tell the difference between reliable information and profit-motivated lies.