- Posted by Admin
- On October 31, 2017
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- codex, FDA, Food Directions, food policy, Food Safety, Foreign Affairs, FSIS, Global, public health, Sonny Perdue, trade, USDA, WHO
By Lea Kriesberg, American University
On October 24, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue decided to suspend the motion to move the US Codex Office from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to the Trade and Foreign Affairs Office (Flynn, 2017). The Codex Alimentarius Commission, consisting of more than 180 countries, sets universal standards surrounding food safety and trade (DTN’s Washington Insider, 2017). This includes areas such as biotechnology, pesticides, food additives and contaminants (Codex, 2016). The Codex Alimentarius Commission, or the “Food Code,” was formed through a partnership between the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Kimbrell, 2000 & Washington Insider, 2017).
The Codex aims to address both public health and trade, but some argue that it should be more focused on health and safety. Critics of the plan to reorganize the Codex in the US, including officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), claimed that the move would subtract from the main purpose of the Codex. Prior to the suspension, the FDA wrote a letter in objection to Perdue’s plan and outlined how the FDA contributes science-based advice to Codex as it is now (Flynn, 2017).
The Codex program is important for international trade because it facilitates the unification of standards accepted by different countries. Member countries can develop a system to “harmonize” individual country requirements with national requirements (Kimbrell, 2000). This system can also assist developing countries in entering the global market. Some argue that having Codex officials report to trade officials would threaten to shift the focus away from science-based health concerns. Others maintain that the reorganization would grant the Codex more power within the US government (Bottemiller Evich, 2017).
For an organization that has a significant impact on public health and trade around the world, it will be important to strike a balance, while upholding both priorities.
Bottemiller Evich, H. (2017). Critics pan USDA plan to move food safety work to trade office. Politico.Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/02/food-safety-agriculture-usda-fda-243351
Codex Alimentarius. (2016, August 8). About Codex. Codex Alimentarius. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/about-codex/en/
Flynn, D. (2017). Food safety reprieve: Ag secretary pauses plan to move Codex. Food Safety News. Retrieved from http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/10/food-safety-reprieve-ag-secretary-pauses-plan-to-move-codex/#.WfXnsq17HBI
Kimbrell, E. (2000). What Is Codex Alimentarius? The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics. Retrieved from http://www.agbioforum.org/v3n4/v3n4a03-kimbrell.htm
DTN’s Washington Insider. (2017). Moving Codex from Food Safety to Trade. DTN The Progressive Farmer. Retrieved from https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/perspectives/columns/washington-insider/article/2017/09/22/moving-codex-food-safety-trade