Transatlantic Food and Agricultural Trade Policy

Transatlantic Food and Agricultural Trade Policy

50 Years of Conflict and Convergence

Timothy E. Josling and Stefan Tangermann

Transatlantic Food and Agricultural Trade Policy traces the past fifty years of transatlantic trade relations in the area of food and agricultural policy, from early skirmishes over chicken exports to ongoing conflicts over biotech foods and hormone use in animal rearing. The current talks on a free-trade area between the US and the EU (TTIP) bring all these differences to the negotiating table. The book points to possible solutions to these decades-old problems.

Chapter 5: Food policy moves to center stage in transatlantic relations (1986 to 2013)

Timothy E. Josling and Stefan Tangermann

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, international economics, political economy


As overt transatlantic tensions over farm policies have receded in recent years the vacuum has been filled by several contentious issues involving food policy. These issues have emerged in the past two decades as a major source of trade conflicts between the US and the EU. The resulting trade tensions first gained prominence in the late 1980s, in particular over the use of hormones in animal production, and have been perpetuated by ongoing disagreements over the rinsing of chicken carcasses and the approval process for acceptance of biotech foods. Issues related to food quality and labeling, and to the way in which animals are treated and crops grown have added fuel to the regulatory conflicts. Several factors are involved in this move of food policy towards center stage. Perhaps the most significant of these is the rise in the level of public concern, particularly in the EU, over matters of food safety. This has had an impact on the political possibilities for resolution of regulatory tensions. In addition, the reduction of more visible trade impediments such as tariffs has laid bare the non-tariff barriers previously hidden below the surface. But it is possible that these regulatory issues themselves would not have become major trade tensions without significant shifts in the pattern of trade and in the structure of the food industry.

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