Political Influence and the Implications of the US Food Safety Modernization Act for Fruit and Vegetable Trade
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A major initiative in the US food and agriculture sector is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. First, it empowers the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to embark on a preventive approach to food safety by requiring food firms to adapt traceability and HACCP systems along their supply chains. Secondly, the FDA is required to maintain strict border measures to ensure that unsafe foods of international origin are not allowed into domestic supply chains. Fruit and vegetables remains a key target under the law. As a result, fruit and vegetable import refusals are anticipated to increase. An area of contention, however, comes from the political-economy perspective where many think that the regulation has a disguised motive of providing economic protection. For example, the law exempts small scale producers in the US while no studies suggest they have been better at preventing foodborne illnesses; and the law comes at a time when the US fruit and vegetable industry faces increasing foreign competition while unemployment remained consistently high across almost all sectors of the US economy. In view of this, the potential exists for a politically motivated regulation to have far fetching implications on countries most dependent on the US market such as Mexico, Canada and China. Hence, the study seeks to establish whether a cause-and-effect relationship between political influence and import refusals exists in order to provide insights into the validity of the claim. Other objectives include assessing the trend in Salmonella foodborne disease incidence (reported by FDA as the single most challenging to US food supply chain) as a justification for FSMA; assessing the conformity of FSMA to international trade agreements and; the implications of the law for relative competitiveness of domestic and foreign firms. Using US agricultural sector unemployment and antidumping activity as proxy variables for political influence, the results suggest that import refusals from Mexico and Canada rise significantly when agricultural sector unemployment rises while a rise in antidumping cases increase refusals from Mexico but not for Canada and China. It therefore recommends further studies on import refusals regarding specific products before mounting a challenge against US import refusal behavior.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentBioresource Policy, Business and Economics
SupervisorKerr, William A.
CommitteePhillips, Peter W.; Maxym, Chaban
Copyright DateAugust 2012
Political Influence, Import Refusals, US Food Safety Modenization Act