Sunday, December 22, 2013

Food, Trade and Geography

We know from years of reading about trade agreements that agriculture  often creates contentious, deal ending issues for proposed free trade agreements.  That topic is likely to hit the front pages again in 2014 as the US and the EU return to work on the TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. A new trade a agreement between these two trading partners.

In this case agriculture doesn’t just mean who can important more or less beef or pork.  It’s broader than that.  Think GIs.  Not soldiers but Geographical Indicators.
Names of food linked to a specific places.

Truly I’d never heard of GIs in that sense until I read Sbine Muscat’s article in the Globalist.  “Wine, Cheese and Trade:  What’s in a Name?
( Can there be champagne made in California not France?  Yes or no depending on trade agreements?  It's true and complicated.  The same question:  does the name of the place matter? exists for wine, cheese, sausage, rice, and more.  Think Florida oranges, Idaho potatoes, Napa Valley wine.

But what is a GI?  According to one definition it is:“ a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.

Philip Blenkinsop writing for the Sunday Times in London pointed out that the GIs matter in upcoming neogtiatons.

So now we have even more to consider when it comes to selecting our food.  Not only is it local?  organic?  gluten free?   Now we ask is it really from where it says?  What's the GI and can I trust it?


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