News Release

Trade Issues: * Mexican Trucks * NAFTA * Agriculture

JOAN CLAYBROOK
President of Public Citizen, Claybrook said today: “Thursday’s Senate cloture vote to stop the filibuster of the Murray-Shelby agreement in the Department of Transportation appropriations bill is a significant victory for the safety of motorists in the United States. The Murray-Shelby provisions are designed to protect Americans from the potential hazards of Mexican trucks, which currently are not subjected to the same safety standards as American carriers. If the current DOT bill is passed, the Murray-Shelby provisions will help ensure that non-discriminatory inspections of Mexican trucks will be carried out both at the border and on site at the companies’ center of operations, thus holding them to the same regulatory standards as U.S. and Canadian vehicles entering our country. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) are to be commended for their leadership roles in defeating the filibuster and getting these safety standards written into the bill. Furthermore, the significant number of senators who voted for cloture — 70 — undermines President Bush’s threat of vetoing a bill that will act in the health and safety interests of all Americans.”
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ROBERT SCOTT
The debate on Mexican trucks has prompted renewed debate on the actual effects of NAFTA. Scott is the U.S. co-author of the report “NAFTA at Seven,” which examined the effects of the trade agreement on the United States, Mexico and Canada. He said today: “It is important to remember that trade is not an end in and of itself — it should improve the living standards of all people in the partner countries. Our report found that, for different reasons in each country, NAFTA was bad for working people in all three countries. In the U.S., three-quarters of a million jobs were lost because of growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. In Mexico, workers have experienced a massive decline in real wages and job quality. Real wages have declined about 25 percent in Mexico since 1993. In Canada, there has been a tremendous rise in inequality, and spending on services such as public education and health care has declined sharply because the Canadian government has tried to compete in a race to the bottom with the U.S. on tax rates. This has shredded the fabric of the Canadian social welfare system.”
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KRISTIN DAWKINS
Vice president for international programs for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Dawkins said today: “The European Commission just passed rules mandating that genetically modified foods be labeled as such. U.S. agribusiness so opposes this it appears our government is willing to up the ante in our trans-Atlantic trade war on this issue — even if it throws more fuel on the fire threatening the next World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Qatar this November. Genetically modified foods are an invention of the biotech industry designed to allow it to take control of the input side of agriculture. A challenge to this is being lobbed in the first-ever global class action lawsuit. The class is all the farmers of the world. Monsanto and its co-conspirators are being charged with creating a cartel to control both the input and output side of the entire food system — and with marketing genetically modified organisms while knowing that they have both human and environmental problems associated with them.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167