Labeling. The US government proposed to ban the frontal labeling in food in member countries during the renegotiation of the NAFTA. Canada rejected the US proposal and the Mexican government has not yet pronounced itself. Given the silence of the Mexican authorities, Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria – a coalition of Mexican NGOs, made up of health organizations, doctors, academics and researchers in public health and nutrition – together with American and Canadian civil and academic associations published a statement that opposes to the American proposal April 18th. Despite this, American and Mexican envoys trust that the NAFTA could be renegotiated in May. However, the Canadian Chancellor, Chrystia Freeland, said that the signature of the agreement could take longer.
The letter, signed by social organizations, academics and medical societies of the three countries, states that “the proposal of the United States is not only an abuse of the mechanisms of the commercial agreements, but that also goes against the recommendations for the prevention of obesity of the World Health Organization”.
The document also points out the example of Chile and Ecuador, which implemented effective front labeling warnings. It also emphasizes that PAHO has taken Chilean labeling as a “valuable example to follow”.
The Mexican NGO “El Poder del Consumidor” maintains that “the prohibition of front labeling warnings introduced by the United States could create a negative precedent and disrupt each nation’s sovereign rights to protect the health of its citizens “
Jim Krieger, the executive director of the Healthy Food America organization in the United States, stressed that the food and beverage industry is behind the US proposal. Krieger recalled the case of the tobacco industry, which used trade agreements to block public health policies that could reduce their profits.
The Mexican Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, considered that a large part of the treaty is already drafted, so it should be signed at the beginning of May. US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the renegotiation will be finished in the third week of May. On the other hand, the Canadian Chancellor stated that the agreement will be signed in the coming months.