Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Alarm Sounded Over Trump's 'Little Noticed' Push to Undermine Food Safety

Popular
Alarm Sounded Over Trump's 'Little Noticed' Push to Undermine Food Safety
Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock

By Jake Johnson

In what critics are describing as a move to prioritize exports over public health, the Trump administration is quietly planning to transfer work on international food safety standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) health arm to its brand new trade arm, which is supervised by former animal-drug industry executive Ted McKinney.

Politico's Helena Bottemiller Evich first reported the "little-noticed" plan on Monday. Much of the concern "involves the USDA's staff that manages the U.S.' participation in the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a little-known but powerful standards-setting panel that sits under the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization and is crucial for resolving trade disputes under the WTO," Bottemiller Evich noted.


The Codex Commission is currently debating whether to impose residue limits on the controversial drug zilpaterol, marketed as "beef-improvement technology" that is primarily used to promote growth in cattle.

Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union, told Politico that the Trump administration's decision to place McKinney—former global corporate affairs director of the animal pharmaceutical giant Elanco—in charge of what is often called "the food code" raises serious questions about "whether the U.S. will put even more pressure to make sure zilpaterol gets through."

The European Union, China and other nations have insisted that zilpaterol—as well as ractopamine, a drug that promotes leanness and muscle growth in animals—is not safe for human or animal consumption and should not be used in food production. The U.S. approved the drug despite these concerns.

While representatives of the food industry were quick to praise the Trump administration's decision to place the Codex office under the watch of a former corporate executive, Michael Taylor, former deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration under former President Barack Obama, argued that the move had been undertaken with virtually no debate or discussion and that it "threatens the scientific credibility of the United States in Codex proceedings."

"There has been no dialogue on this proposal with the broad food safety community and no explanation from USDA of the problem the proposed reorganization solves," Taylor said.

The Trump administration's decision, Taylor concluded, could ultimately lower food safety standards, which would lead to "significant negative consequences in Africa and other developing regions."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

A seagull flies in front of the Rampion offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. Neil / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Frank La Sorte and Kyle Horton

Millions of birds travel between their breeding and wintering grounds during spring and autumn migration, creating one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. These journeys often span incredible distances. For example, the Blackpoll warbler, which weighs less than half an ounce, may travel up to 1,500 miles between its nesting grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Maillefer / Unsplash

By Lynne Peeples

Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

Read More Show Less
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less