A coalition of livestock and food groups are calling for negotiations towards a "comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union that includes sanitary and phyto-sanitary stipulations.
The groups sent a letter signaling support for such an agreement to U.S. Trade Representative nominee Mike Froman Monday.
The coalition expressed concern with a resolution approved last month by the European Parliament that in negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States the EU should maintain the "precautionary principle" for SPS issues.
Precautionary measures are implemented based on the identification of potential risk, public perception and political considerations, the groups said. However, the World Trade Organization requires member countries' SPS measures to be based on scientific risk assessments.
"Precaution in the EU has become a pretext for import protectionism under the pretense of consumer safety," wrote the coalition in its letter. "Such non-science-based measures have become the most challenging barrier to U.S. food and agricultural exports to the EU."
Examples of non-science based trade barriers, the group said, are restrictions on production methods, discriminatory and labeling requirements and regulatory barriers to biotech.
The coalition in its letter asked that such issues be enforceable and addressed in negotiations – not left to a future mechanism.
If certain sectors or measures are excluded from the TTIP, said the coalition, or placed into a "future negotiation" category, the agreement likely will fail to win the support of the food and agricultural sector.
Nearly 50 organization signed the letter, noting that Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and other recent free trade agreements should be used as models for talks on the TTIP.