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CETA could increase our exposure to cancer-causing chemicals

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Why is Canada and CETA’s approach to health and safety worrisome?

Canadian exporters have cited EU health and safety standards as a primary barrier to trade and Canada has repeatedly complained about the European Commission’s regulations related to environmental health.

While the environmental standards in CETA are not enforceable and the EU cannot challenge Canada for having less protective regulations, Canada and its investors can challenge the EU and member states for having more protective regulations.

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CETA would introduce new and potentially massive financial risks for states that enact or apply laws to protect the public from toxic exposure.

CETA could increase our exposure to cancer-causing chemicals

CETA would provide new avenues for Canadian companies and the Canadian government to take the EU and Member States to court for implementing laws that regulate dangerous substances in our food, children’s toys, and cosmetics.

CETA would introduce new and potentially massive financial risks for states that enact or apply laws to protect the public from toxic exposure. These risks alone could further undermine our ability to regulate harmful chemicals and to limit their impacts such as cancer, birth defects, asthma, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

For example, EU’s REACH law, which explicitly refers to the precautionary principle, requires companies to generate information about the safety of a chemical before it is marketed. Industry and the Canadian government consider compliance with this system to be an undue expense and a barrier to trade.

Canada has raised concerns over 20 times to the EU’s ambitious chemical law REACH at the World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee. Also, in March this year, Canada warned that if the EU took a precautionary approach to regulating hormone-disrupting chemicals, this “could unnecessarily disrupt trade.”

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The case of endocrine disruptors

In March 2016, Canada warned that if the EU took a precautionary approach to regulating hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, this “could unnecessarily disrupt trade.”

Endocrine disruptors, or EDCs, are harmful chemicals that disrupt our endocrine system. They have been linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer, birth defects and other developmental disorders. They are conservatively estimated to cost Europeans more than €160 billion each year in additional health expenses.

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CIEL POSITION PAPER: EU-Canada Trade and investment deal threatens EU chemical policies

One of the main purposes of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade.

The question is whether it is in the EU’s interest to reduce barriers that are caused by a difference in regulatory approach. In the area of environmental health, where the EU provides a higher level of protection, it is only in the EU’s interest to reduce regulatory barriers if the EU can maintain the same level of protection.

However, Canada’s views on trade barriers with the EU, the standards in CETA, and the processes set up by CETA suggest that the agreement would lead to deregulation, rather than setting high transAtlantic standards. Through CETA, Canada and Canadian companies will gain new avenues to invalidate the EU’s more precautionary approach.

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The Unhealthy Side Effects of CETA

The EU recently concluded a new free trade deal with Canada – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA for short. The deal has considerable side effects for people and public policy making. It has the potential to undermine public health by opening the...