The price of `free trade'

Regarding the View From Capitol Hill article ``Fighting Bad Fisheries Policy,'' Nov. 2:

At last, a coherent exposition of the complex interrelationship between environmental/ecological issues and free-trade policy. As the vote on NAFTA approaches, I urge politicians to consider more than just the issue of jobs and to look, for once, to the future: to sustainable development.

The obvious shortcoming in NAFTA as it now exists is that it has the potential to undermine United States policy formulated to protect endangered species. Under NAFTA, the importation of tuna that has been caught by fishing around dolphins (which results in a high mortality rate among the marine mammals) cannot be legislated against. Massive dolphin mortality is ``trade irrelevant.'' Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Chilean fishermen kill marine mammals to supply bait for crab that enters the US market. Again, sanctions cannot be imposed because of ``trade irrelevance.'' Our own 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act is being subverted.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of free trade, and indeed it has the potential to achieve much that it is touted to do. But NAFTA should be renegotiated. Congress should repudiate it Nov. 17 and should invite Mexico and Canada to immediately begin the renegotiation process, with sustainable development high on the agenda. Len Milich, Tucson, Ariz.

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