Europe: We Don’t Want to Eat American Food!

October 27th 2014

Joining the ranks of Mexico and Russia, the European Union may soon swear off imported American food on account of divergent views on food processing policies.

In light of a recent trade pact between the U.S. and the E.U. that would affect 800 million people, these disagreements have large implications. The European preference for “farm to fork” movements is more developed and widespread than the progressive fad it is in pockets of the U.S.

What are the practices at question? American methods developed to keep our food safe to eat. For instance, the E.U. has banned chlorine treatment, a “process during which poultry is chilled in chlorine bathes to destroy traces of salmonella and other bacteria,” because they worry it might cause cancer. It is sort like choosing between the lesser of two evils.

The other major trans-Atlantic point of contention is the usage of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. According to the Huffington Post, “Much of the corn, soybean, sugar beets and cotton cultivated in the United States today contains plants whose DNA was manipulated in labs to resist disease and drought, ward off insects and boost the food supply.” These all seem like reasonable precautions, yet GMOs are largely banned in the 28 nations of the E.U. What gives?

The fact is that the jury is still out on the safety of GM food. Some believe that GMOs are crucial for combating world hunger, that boosting harvests is the only way to accommodate booming populations. Others take issue with labeling policies, since the U.S. does not require companies to indicate on the package whether or not the food was genetically modified. These advocates claim that labeling GMOs would unnecessarily unnerve consumers when there is no real inherent threat. Europe requires all GM food to be labeled.

The issue might boil down to simple cultural differences. It is worth noting that food borne illness in Europe occurs in less than 1/1000th percent of the population annually, compared to the 15% of the population in America affected every year. Perhaps we should take a page out of their book?

Want to learn more about the debate over food labeling? Watch this 14 year old activist confront a TV anchor: