Rep. DeLauro on Trade Deal: ‘Our Food System Is Broken’ and ‘TPP Will Make Matters Worse’

Ali Meyer | May 14, 2015 | 8:22pm EDT
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Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) was critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, saying that “our food system today is broken” and that “the TPP will make matters even worse.”

“Importing countries do not have to meet U.S domestic standards or the equivalent,” said DeLauro. “So we should not be surprised that a recent consumer report found that 60 percent of shrimp and samples purchased at American grocery stores contained at least one type of harmful bacteria. Frankly, our food system today is broken, and my colleagues and I are deeply concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will make matters even worse.”


She said there are new sources for food because of “globalization,” but it also presents new challenges for the U.S. regulatory system. For example, the U.S. imports 91 percent of its seafood, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only has the resources to inspect just under two percent, she said, and even when inspectors turn away shipments, importers can bypass it.

“There is no mechanism for holding these countries to account for violations of U.S. food safety standards,” DeLauro said. “The TPP will do nothing. It will do nothing to change that.

“Trade agreements do not strengthen exporting countries’ food safety regimes, nor do they strengthen our own system, because they cannot increase funding for borders inspections that would be the best way to crack down on unsafe products,” she added. “We need to get this right. The health of our families is on the line. There are too many unanswered questions and too many corners around the TPP, which can lead to problems with public health.”

“One of the many dangers of TPP is the proliferation of contaminated seafood,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). “As Rosa said, about 90 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans is imported. Almost all the shrimp and half the salmon that are by far the two most commonly consumed seafood species in the United States come from countries who put much lower emphasis on sanitation and water quality than American consumers believe they are getting.

“Now investigation in seafood fraud has shown that 30 percent or more seafood being sold is misrepresented, making it difficult or impossible for consumers to avoid potentially contaminating products,” said Slaughter. “The goal of the TPP is to facilitate more trade. Do we really want more of these products in our stores and on our tables? We have to stop the TPP for hundreds of reasons. Please put this one at the top.

“This is not a trade bill. This is a race to the bottom,” she said.

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