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Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission

Other Issues with in depth

that Impact Food in this paper, there

and Agriculture

Though they are not dealt

are a number of other polemical issues on the

bargaining table in trade talks that also affect agriculture and rural areas. One such area is food quality and safety. The U.S. position, backed by WTO rules, is that while countries can discriminate against dangerous products based on “sound science,” such discrimination can only apply to the final product itself and not the

process used to produce it. caused friction. The U.S.

Both the “science” issue and the “process” issue have claims that the “precautionary principle” backed by

other

countries

to

discriminate

against

products

whose

health

and

environmental

safety are produced evidence” evidence”

still largely unstudied—like genetically-engineered (GE) foods, or beef with growth hormones, is not “science based” because “scientific is still lacking. We imagine a hypothetical case where “scientific were to appear that showed that GE foods were not a consumer risk,

but

were

an

ecological

risk

where

the

engineered

crops

or

livestock

were

grown.

In such because

a it

case, the would be

U.S. based

might well fight against discrimination on that basis on the production process and not on the final product

itself. Another wedge issue, and the Third World on the

this time between the U.S. and EU on the one hand, other, is that of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs),

which are addressed (TRIPS) Agreement

in in

the the

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights WTO,. Negotiations related to the TRIPs Agreement

are conducted separately style patent protection on

from the agriculture the rest of the world,

negotiations. TRIPS imposes US- which in agriculture means “plant

variety protection,” and forces farmers everywhere to pay royalties for using varieties patented by foreign corporations. While Third World governments

crop have

largely passive

accepted TRIPS at the resistance comprised of

rhetorical level, foot dragging on

they are engaged in a the national legislation

massive required

to make the agreement operational.

In general, family

environmentalist, consumer, indigenous, and labor the precautionary principle and oppose TRIPS.

organizations

farm, peasant, worldwide back

4.2

Dumping and Subsidies: Unraveling the Confusion

Dumping is what is driving millions of farmers off the land throughout the Third World and into urban slums and international migratory streams. It causes the low crop prices that make earning a livelihood off the land increasingly impossible.11 It is also illegal under well-established international rules. Yet because of the way these rules are written, they are virtually unenforceable when the complainant is a poor country. First, countries must have domestic legislation that makes dumping illegal. Many developing countries do not have such legislation. Second, the businesses (or farmers) affected must follow that domestic law, which usually implies showing harm to the sector as a whole— a daunting challenge when the sector is comprised of a million or more smallholders. Third, the government must then establish whether harm has in fact been done, often a

difficult task population is even harder.

when reliable and timely statistics are not maintained. When the affected spread out over a national territory and not effectively represented, it is The evidence must ultimately be able to satisfy an WTO panel

11

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