Join the UFW and food activists in speaking out against a Trump Administration plan to shift work on international food safety issues from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service to the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Division. According to an October 2 Politico article, “Current and former officials from both the Agriculture Department and the FDA have been raising alarm internally and publicly about the plan to take the office away from the USDA’s public health arm and give it to the agency’s newly created trade arm. At stake, they say, is the country’s status as a global leader on food safety and quality.” Critics say “the move signals the U.S. is more interested in promoting exports than in science-based public health standards.” Speak out today!
What is the problem? The US participates in the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This is a little-known, but extremely powerful food safety standards-setting body that sits under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. Food safety regulators from USDA and FDA play an influential role in the Codex Alimentarius Commission through their work in the US Codex Office, which now is under USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Fittingly the current mission of the US Codex Office is “the development and advancement of science-based food standards for the benefit of the United States and the worldwide community.”
Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue created the new trade arm of the USDA. He is planning on moving the Codex food safety responsibilities to this new trade arm. According to his press release, his new undersecretary’s goal is “to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world…The USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world.”
How can this not be a conflict of interest?! Food safety belongs under the food safety department whose responsibility is to make sure the food eaten is safe versus a trade department whose goal is to expand the US’s exports. Anything else in a conflict of interest and not a good message to send to the international community, which already criticizes the US for being too cozy with industry.
Take action today and tell Secretary Perdue not to go ahead with his proposal. International food safety responsibilities belong under a food safety department, not a trade department.