NAFTA, CETA and Health




and health. International treaties, as we have already noted.
, serve the


also to dismantle regulations to protect the

public health
. And here is an example, which should serve as a warning.

NAFTA and health

The ongoing negotiations between Mexico and the United States to update the rules of theNorth American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) appear geared toward disregarding World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations to combat the growing prevalence of obesity, overweight and related diseases:

– Indeed, the U.S. delegation aims to ban warnings on the front of junk food labels, already adopted in Chile and Ecuador-and proposed in Canada, Peru, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico-to notify consumers of excesses in sugar, saturated fat and salt,

– Mexico’s delegation

, in turn, is under the influences of a private consultant who in his time (1994) led the negotiations for Mexican membership in NAFTA and later headed ConMéxico, the Big Food lobby

that fought local obesity prevention policies.

Junk food and noncommunicable disease prevention policies

I warning on labels of foods HFSS (High Fats, Sugars and Sodium) – that Big Food would like to ban throughout the NAFTA area-they have the same function as so-called traffic lights on the label.


communicating to the consumer, in the simplest way, that a food has high contents of substances-such as sugars, saturated fat, and salt-whose excessive intake causes disease,

– In line with the recommendations of WHO

, UNICEF, FAO and other organizations, as well as international academies,

as a necessary and effective measure to address the ongoing epidemic of noncommunicable diseases -NCDs-caused by unbalanced diets and unhealthy lifestyles.

The taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages Is another indispensable measure. In Central America, where such beverages are more available and affordable than water itself

, as inItaly plagued by diabetes.


Politics serving private interests

Big Food – Namely, the 10 big sisters of food joined by Ferrero (1) – instead insists on proposing the system of GDAs, (2) i.e., the numbers related to food portions only.

The galaxy of
that everywhere represents the big sisters of food-from ConMéxico (3) to GMA(Grocery Manufacturers of America) to Food Drink Europe-is therefore pursuing the priority of preventing effective and objective news (based on 100 g/ml of product) about the nutritional characteristics of foods. As well as purpose taxation, of course.

Big Food then leads a broader battle against any opportunity for virtuous companies to value the absence of consumer-averse ingredients-such as palm oil and GMOs-as well as the origin of raw materials. With the support of local politicians, such as Alba’s Forzista Alberto Cirio advocating for tropical fat and transgenic foods. And of governments, such as the U.S. and Canada, which have declared battle with European regulations on mandatory origin on the label.

NAFTA, CETA and Health

As denounced by the Mexican association El Poder del Consumidor,

The intention to establish in the renegotiation of the North American trade agreement a ban on instituting a warning about high levels of sugar, sodium and saturated fat-on the front of food and beverage labels-exceeds the limits of a trade agreement, violating the right to health. (…) This proposal not only goes against the Mexican Constitution (…) but also contravenes international human rights treaties and case law in trade agreements that have always recognized the primacy of the right to health over trade rights.

From NAFTA to CETA, the step is short. Keeping in mind that Europe and the member states. Have expressly abnegated their regulatory sovereignty In favor of private interests. To the point that investors can take legal action against the European Union and individual national governments that dare to ‘disturb’ their interests. (4) Be that as it may, in the name of public health.

Dario Dongo


(1) The Alba-based giant acquired the confectionery area (


of Nestlé USA, as of January 2018, for US$2.8 billion. V.

(2) The system of GDAs, Guideline Daily Amounts, was implemented by the European legislature-in reg. EU 1169/11, under the name of Reference Intakes ,Reference Intakes-to express on the front label the nutritional values related to a portion of a product. Both in absolute terms (e.g., 100 kcal), and in relation to a hypothetical recommended average daily requirement (e.g., 5%, compared to 2000 kcal/day)

(3) ConMéxico has even protested rules aimed at ensuring the exclusive provision of healthy food and beverages to children in schools (!)

(4) Investment Court System