Ever heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? It’s a trade agreement between 12 nations—including the United States—that surround the Pacific Ocean (also known as the Pacific Basin). It’s designed to lower tariff barriers between the member nations, thus facilitating increased trade between them. Sounds good, right? After all, increased trade between nations usually causes job growth in the export sectors of those nations’ economies. It also tends to bring the member countries closer together diplomatically, reducing the chance for international conflict. It seems like a win-win all the way around—until you consider the health of our partners.
You see, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow agribusiness to vastly increase the export of American meat products to countries like Japan and Mexico, not to mention several other nations that are already suffering from increases in so-called “diseases of affluence,” such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which have been strongly linked to the meat-rich Western diet.
Listen to some of the pronouncements about the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the U.S. meat industry: the agreement “represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports” (The National Chicken Council); “the agreement holds enormous potential for American meat exports” (The North American Meat Institute); and the agreement would “ensure substantial new market access benefits for U.S. pork in those markets” (The National Pork Producers Council).
With Americans becoming more educated about the health risks of consuming meat (and all other animal-based foods), this is a godsend to the U.S. meat industry. Indeed, it’s very reminiscent of what the tobacco industry did when American smoking rates started declining in the late 1960s; they simply shifted to an extremely aggressive export campaign. One of the results is that so many people in China now smoke that the Chinese government considers it a serious problem.
Will the Trans-Pacific Partnership throw open the door to spreading the American health crisis across the Pacific basin? Let’s hope not.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.