The Viva Vine: vol #4, no #3: May/June 1995

An Inoculation of Death Via NAFTA AND GATT: Pace Picks Up on Export of American Diet

by Pamela and Alan Rice

The president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation Philip Seng declared recently that the livestock meat sectors "are stepping into a new era in foreign trade." The completion of the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) means there will be "new rules but more opportunities than ever before for meat trading."

John W. Nutt, president of the Arkansas-based J.W. Nutt Co., said at a conference sponsored by the National Grain & Feed Association late last year that with its exploding population and rapid economic growth, Asia appears to be the next great venue for the booming U.S. poultry industry. "The potential is literally enormous," he said. "Internal expansion has been immense with vast spin-off benefits for providers of grain and feed."

In mid April, Bloomberg news service reported that a U.S. agricultural attaché based in Beijing forecast that China will need to continue importing significant quantities of corn and other grains in 1995 to meet demands of an expanding middle class. China's rapidly expanding livestock feed sector is "soaking up the country's exportable surplus of corn and other feed grains," he said.

On March 10, the USDA reported that "last year was a very good year for meat exports with beef, pork, broilers and turkeys showing increases of 26%, 22%, 46% and 16%, respectively."

Also, according to the USDA on February 23, "U.S. beef exports over the next 10 years are forecast to increase by 52%." The USDA's long term Commodity Baseline Projections, released at its annual Outlook Conference, said U.S. beef exports to all markets are expected to increase substantially as improved living standards and rising incomes in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe increase demand."

This past March, the USDA released its complete forecast for the American livestock, dairy and poultry industries' 1995 production. Each American will, on average, consume 68.5 lbs. of beef, 53.8 lbs. of pork, 73.4 lbs. of chicken and 18.8 lbs. of turkey. This totals 218.3 lbs., or 9.6 ounces of flesh food per day. In addition, the average American will eat 240 chicken eggs in 1995.

... And what if this level of consumption is adopted around the world?

As noted in this issue's "Grapevine," scientists recently predicted that the depletion of natural resources will force people to eat a more plant based diet. Today, meat production is already petroleum intensive. With increased exports, transport of tons of grain and meat halfway around the world will use even more oil.

Ironically, it was in China where a massive epidemiological study was conducted. Known as "The China Study," it found in 1989 that rural Chinese who ate virtually no meat products did not suffer the terminal and debilitating diseases of the average American with his meat-based diet. When meat goes overseas, ill-health will surely follow.

Willard R. Sparks, chairman of Sparks Commodities in Tennessee, was recently quoted to say, "Foreign buyers can purchase some U.S. meat and meat by-products for less money than they can produce them in their own country." Besides a weak U.S. dollar which lowers the price to foreign importers, "U.S. meat producers are very efficient" he explained.

Readers of "The VivaVine" can read between the lines, here, regarding "efficiency." With no laws today to protect animals used for food in the U.S., efficiency means death-camp conditions for the animals. Workers, too, have little protection.

The business press and government statistics are telling us that the U.S. is exporting a commodity... In reality we're exporting a lifestyle with all the environmental devastation, health impairment, animal cruelty and worker injustice associated with it.

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