Health

Background

America´s ag ministers defend science on sanitary concerns

The Ministers and Secretaries of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Food and Rural Development of the Americas have defended “scientific principles” against unnecessary restrictions for trade due to the Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual meeting last July 13th.

The event was organised by the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development of Mexico, Víctor Villalobos, with support from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Among the high-level authorities were representatives from US, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Dominican Republic.

The high-level authorities of the Americas reinforce their commitment to food security worldwide and cooperation in the region. Photo: Daniel Azevedo
The high-level authorities of the Americas reinforce their commitment to food security worldwide and cooperation in the region. Photo: Daniel Azevedo

Measures

US and Brazil are 2 of Top 3 agricultural goods exporters in the world that have suffered from banning products, including poultry, pig and beef. The authorities also reaffirmed willingness to implement measures at the national, regional and global levels to guarantee food and nutritional security around the globe facing a risk by the pandemic and economic crisis that is expected to follow. After the meeting, the ministers issued a document that describes the individual and joint efforts they will undertake to guarantee food and nutritional security, including:

  • Strengthening food, agricultural, forestry and aquaculture production in Americas due to strategic role which agrifood sector will play in economic reactivation.
  • Strengthening sanitary measures and protocols in order to protect human and agricultural sanity without hindering flow of food, through prior consultation mechanisms.
  • Reaffirm World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments to facilitate trade, not create unnecessary obstacles and protect human health and safety
  • Maintaining national and international markets operations, as well as local supply chains, through information exchange on food availability, demand and prices.
  • Continuing to support small and medium-scale agriculture in agrifood chains, particularly during the pandemic and economic recovery, through public policies, public and private investment.
  • Reaffirming their trust on technical cooperation provided by specialized agencies such as IICA and FAO, which can enhance efforts to bolster innovation, inclusion and sustainability in that sector.

We must maintain information and products exchange, adopt agricultural health measures, guarantee markets and support SMEs in order to create conditions for economic reactivation.”

Information exchange

“Lately, we have been meeting more regularly than usual, which is very good. We must maintain information and products exchange, adopt agricultural health measures, guarantee markets and support SMEs in order to create conditions for economic reactivation,” stated Villalobos. The Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Sonny Perdue, noted, “the rest of the world should admire the relationship between countries in the Americas, which serves as an example that cooperation benefits everyone.” He added that his country is committed to maintain cooperation with all of its trade partners and called for avoiding the adoption of measures that restrict the exchange of products without any scientific justification.

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Tereza Cristina, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply of Brazil, pointed out that the agricultural sector is under a great deal of pressure to maintain food supply, but continues to show resilience. “It is pivotal to distinguish all efforts we make to protect our populations against the virus, from measures without any scientific basis against international food commerce that can generate insecurity, uncertainty and misinformation,” said.

According to Marie Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture of Canada, agricultural trade is critical for all citizens. “It creates jobs, increases income and provides safe, high-quality food. It is also crucial to keep borders open to foreign workers and protect their safety, because they are essential and deserve to be treated that way,” remarked.