Monday, September 10, 2007


Recalled toys list and relation to our failed trade policies

by Larry Geller

Public Citizen has provided a handy list of the 20 most recently recalled toys as part of an article in their Eyes on Trade blog. But curious minds want to know more.
Why is this happening? Our trade policies promote relocation to low wage countries of production of goods once made here. The same trade deals put limits on the safety standards we can require for imports and how much we can inspect imports. This is not just about China, but about our failed trade policies that prioritize the volume of trade over your children's safety or fair working conditions.

They also have a downloadable report, Trade Deficit in Food Safety. You may want to at least read a summary of this report. A snippet from the Public Citizen description:

Today, nearly $65 billion in food goods are imported into the United States annually – nearly double the value imported when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO) went into effect in the mid-1990s. Contrary to what consumers believe, the vast majority of imported foods that end up on the dinner plates of U.S. consumers is unexamined and untested.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that it will only conduct border inspections on .6 percent of the food that it regulates (vegetables, fruit, seafood, grains, dairy and animal feed) at the border in 2007 - down from an already disconcerting eight percent prior to NAFTA and WTO. FDA data makes clear that Americans are three times more likely to be exposed to dangerous pesticide residues on imported foods than on domestic foods. Only 11 percent of beef, pork and chicken imported so far in 2007 has been inspected at the border by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Emphasis is from the original article.

As "free trade" agreements are pressed with additional countries, the situation for consumers can only be expected to grow worse.

The toy recalls and the adulterated food products from China are hot news now, but expect them to disappear from media radar very quickly after awhile. Or depending on what happens in Iran or with Paris Hilton. If you are concerned, think of how to bring the issue to life again as we go into the coming national election cycle.

And meanwhile, this is a reminder to buy locally where possible and to patronize restaurants and stores that buy their foodstuffs locally.


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