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Strong food safety standards - now and in future

European consumers will continue to enjoy the highest food safety standards under a future trade agreement with the US.

  • TTIP negotiations will not go beyond accepted norms on the pursuance of legitimate public policy goals on health and consumer safety that are in accordance with international SPS law.
  • The precautionary principle approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is a mainstay of European regulation. The European Commission does not seek to change this in TTIP negotiations.

European TTIP negotiators will build on the principles of existing food safety legislation at the international level with their US counterparts. These principles are based on the World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) Agreement. This includes requirements that each side’s SPS measures be based on science and international standards. It is clear that signatories to the SPS Agreement retain their rights to appraise and manage risk in accordance with the protection levels they deem appropriate. TTIP negotiations will not go beyond such accepted norms on the pursuance of legitimate public policy goals on health and consumer safety that are in accordance with international SPS law. 

European consumers will continue to enjoy the highest food safety standards under a future trade agreement with the US. Negotiators will present their own regulatory approaches in this area, and if a collaborative approach cannot be agreed upon, then the status quo will remain. This means that European authorities retain the ability to legislate in the public interest on food safety at all times, both throughout negotiations and afterwards.

There is vast demand from American consumers for EU agricultural exports. Opportunities for European farmers to grow their businesses should not be restricted by barriers to trade resulting from regulatory non-cooperation between the EU and US. TTIP negotiations aim to improve technical coordination and the removal of significant administrative burdens. This could provide a boost to our farming sector and its economic outlook at a difficult time. In 1999, the EU and the US signed an agreement that recognizes that the two sides veterinary requirements can be equivalent, but each side retains the full right to set the animal welfare protection levels they deem suitable. TTIP negotiations are an opportunity to build on this existing cooperation mechanism, and ensure that transatlantic trade in animals and animal products conforms to the highest possible standards and the most-up-to-date scientific knowledge.

The precautionary principle approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is a mainstay of European regulation. The European Commission does not seek to change this in TTIP negotiations. Basic laws relating to GMOs, including on human health protection, animal welfare, and environmental security will not form part of TTIP negotiations.

Studies suggest that EU and US regulations that seek to protect consumers in areas including food safety and GMOs are broadly similar regardless of the differences in their development and constitution. Neither side can claim to enforce stricter precautions against environmental and health risks than the other.

In 2012, the EU and US signed a mutual recognition agreement on the production and certification of organic food. This broke down trade barriers in an important and growing agricultural product market. It was made possible by the fact that though EU and US officials recognise that regulatory systems differ, they both produce high quality organic and agricultural foodstuffs that meet strict programmes designed to promote balance and environmental sustainability.

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