Date: Fri, 6 Jun 97 15:06:25 CDT
From: rich%pencil@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Trade Deals Like NAFTA Threatening U.S. Food Safety

/** headlines: 191.0 **/
** Topic: Report Highlights Lax Inspections At U.S. Border **
** Written 9:15 PM Jun 5, 1997 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 7:04 AM Jun 3, 1997 by in trade.strategy */
/* ---------- "trd-str Teamsters on New GAO Study:" ---------- */

From: (Dale Wiehoff)
Subject: trd-str Teamsters on New GAO Study: Trade Deals Like NAFTA Threatening U.S. Food Safety (fwd)


Teamsters on New GAO Study: Trade Deals Like NAFTA Threatening U.S. Food Safety

PRNewswire. 29 May, 1999

Report Highlights Lax Inspections at U.S. Border WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Food safety in the United States is threatened by the explosion of foreign-grown produce entering the country under trade deals like NAFTA, the General Accounting Office says in a new study.

The increase in foreign-grown food is causing federal inspectors to take dangerous shortcuts while handling imported plants and produce.

"This report is more proof that NAFTA is putting working families at risk," said Teamsters General President Ron Carey. "Because of pressure from NAFTA to keep freight moving, food safety is suffering."

The GAO documents that the amount of foreign-grown produce and plants entering the United States has skyrocketed because of NAFTA and other trade deals. At the same time, the GAO found that the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for examining produce and plants entering the United States, is being pushed to speed up the flow of imported cargo because of pressure to fulfill the terms of trade agreements.

At the Mexican border crossing with the heaviest passenger vehicle volume, inspectors only examined 0.1 percent of incoming cars and trucks. This is far below the APHIS' already low target of 2 percent.

The study, Improvements Needed to Minimize Threat of Foreign Pests and Diseases, found that despite efforts to beef up enforcement, inspectors are overworked and their examinations often are hasty and ineffective.

In some cases, there are not enough inspectors to monitor all border points-of-entry. Inspectors at the three busiest ports in the United States admitted in the report that they could not be confident that their examinations were "adequate" to identify dangerous pests and disease.

In other instances, GAO investigators witnessed federal inspectors allowing the shippers themselves to select which parts of the cargo to be examined. This practice "reduces the credibility of the inspection," according to the GAO.

The most common inspection shortcut was the practice of "tailgate inspections," examining only the cargo stored near doors and openings of vehicles. A study by APHIS itself found that 60 percent of pests are missed in tailgate inspections.

Dale Wiehoff, Executive Director
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55404 USA

Tel: 612-870-0453
Fax: 612-870-4846
Ext: 612-870-3401

Trade-Strategy is moderated by IATP. To unsubscribe send email to: Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message say: unsubscribe trade-strategy. Send messages to with any problems. Visit the IATP homepage: