Skip to content

CETA promotes virtual water exports

Janet Kimantas writes in the current issue of Alternatives Journal that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), “will mean vastly increased access to the European market for Canadian beef and pork.” Specifically, “Food in Canada reports that beef producers will be able to export an extra 35,000 tonnes to the EU and pork exports will spike by near 70,000 tonnes.”

In terms of water consumption, “The production of one tonne of beef requires 15,000,000 litres of water; one tonne of pork 6,000,000 litres.” Kimantas highlights, “The virtual water used to produce a tonne of exported beef (or pork) is forever removed from the watershed.”

She adds, “Beef production is concentrated in southern Alberta and pork in southern Manitoba. Both areas are tremendously water stressed, partly due to already intensive meat production.” In Alberta the main impact is water removed from the watershed, “in Manitoba pork production has a different effect on local water supply.” Excess nitrogen and phosphorus are harming Lake Winnipeg, and it’s agriculture that is the largest potential source of these nutrients in the Lake Winnipeg Basin.

Kimantas concludes, “Accounting for water and nutrient loading is not considered in massive trade deals like CETA. By not inquiring into the consequences of increased meat production on water … trade deals have the capacity to threaten the publicly shared water resources of all Canadians.”

To read the full article, be sure to pick up the current issue of Alternatives Journal.

Further reading
Leaky Trade: A portrait of virtual water trade in Canada
What you don’t know about a deal you haven’t heard of, Globe and Mail op-ed by Maude Barlow