WASHINGTON, July 21, 2015 – U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., are calling on U.S. negotiators at the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Hawaii to commit publicly that their negotiating position on catfish will not conflict with existing U.S. law. 

“Public health and food safety must be a top priority in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations,” they said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Americans depend on government to ensure the safety of their food supply…Our government is responsible for maintaining the safety of our nation’s food supply – including seafood.  We urge you to adhere to our promise to protect American consumers. Furthermore, we ask you to make a public statement of your commitment to a negotiating position that will not enter the U.S. into any trade agreement that will conflict with our domestic catfish inspection laws.”

Earlier in July, the Appropriations Committee approved an amendment by DeLauro that would prohibit the administration from entering into any agreement that invalidates U.S. catfish inspection laws. That amendment is now part of the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill that was approved by the committee and is now awaiting action by the full House of Representatives. Aderholt is chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Several countries involved in TPP negotiations, particularly Vietnam and Malaysia, have notoriously lax food safety standards, the lawmakers said in a news release. The cited a recent study that found that antibiotics banned by the Food and Drug Administration were present in 100 percent of Vietnamese catfish farms.

Chief negotiators for the 12 Pacific Rim nations involved in the TPP talks are meeting on the Hawaiian island of Maui from July 24-27. Trade ministers are scheduled to meet at the same venue from July 28-31.

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