The Trade Deal that Threatens the Food on Your Plate

By now you might have heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but perhaps not about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). They are both secretly happening, limiting our information.  The TPP is a pending trade deal between the US and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries while the TTIP is between the US and the European Union.  Similar to previous free trade agreements, the TPP and the TTIP would harm people while benefiting corporations.  Corporate rights to profit would trump domestic laws.  Intellectual property, pharmaceuticals, and food are some of the everyday items that would be impacted by this trade deal.  We, GMO Insiders, especially care because the TPP would prevent countries from labeling GMOs and the TTIP would lessen the EU’s existing GMO laws.

To make matters worse, the US government is trying to fast track the trade deals, preventing Congress and the public from thoroughly assessing the agreements and expressing concerns.

Below is more information about the TPP and the TTIP from our friends at Food & Water Watch and GMWatch. Send a letter to your Congress representative about the TPP

Guest posts by Jim Walsh, Mid-Atlantic Region Director at Food & Water Watch, and Claire Robinson, editor at GMWatch, an information service on GM issues in the UK, and research director at the sustainability organisation Earth Open Source.

About the TPP – Jim Walsh, Food & Water Watch:

Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This controversial trade deal has been negotiated mostly behind closed doors, and the text of the agreement was only recently made available to Congress. Even now that the text is available, members of Congress still have to jump through a few hoops to gain access. Over 600 multinational corporations have been made “special advisors” for the purpose of assisting our trade representatives draft the deal, and everything we know about the contents of the TPP is from leaks.

Inside the trade deal, known as the TPP, is a provision that will allow companies to challenge — as illegal trade barriers — any government policies that purportedly infringe on corporate profits.  In short, a corporation could sue federal, state and local governments if it believes that a law or regulation will negatively impact its bottom line. This is scary in all sorts of ways.

Companies could challenge local laws that prohibit or delay the environmentally dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for natural gas. Already a company incorporated in Delaware is challenging Quebec’s fracking moratorium under a similar investment provision under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Other laws could be challenged as well — either by foreign governments or foreign corporations. Commonsense food labeling laws like country-of-origin and even GMO labeling could be challenged under the TPP. Food companies and importers are also seeking provisions that could allow food importers to force products suspected of unlawful contamination into commerce while tests are being carried out to determine their safety. The TPP would increase the importation of unsafe farm-raised seafood from places like Vietnam. And it will fail to raise labor and environmental standards in other countries. To make matters worse, the TPP will undermine the growing national movement toward a more sustainable local food system. Things like Jersey Fresh labels and farm-to-school programs could be targeted for elimination by this disastrous trade agreement. But it doesn’t stop there.

Recently a bill was introduced in Congress that would “Fast Track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fast Track would eliminate Congressional input into the TPP, would force the deal to be considered under an accelerated timetable, limit the amount of debate and prohibit Congress from amending it in any way.  This would prevent Congress from addressing the many flaws in the TPP that we already know about and make it impossible to enact a better trade deal that could help strengthen our local food systems and protect farmers and the environment.

Members of Congress are receiving a tremendous amount of pressure from corporate lobbyists – and shamefully, even the White House – to support the Fast Track measure. Without a strong show of public opposition, we will not be able to stop the Fast Track vote from moving forward. We need your help.

You can take action today to help stop the Trans Pacific Partnership and Fast Track by:

  1. Texting TRADE to 69866 to sign the Food & Water Watch petition opposing the TPP and Fast Track.
  2. Call your member of Congress at 877-852-4710 and tell them to VOTE NO on Fast Tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

About the TTIP – Claire Robinson (UK), GMWatch and Earth Open Source:

Europeans are worried about the TTIP because its main focus is to achieve regulatory convergence between the US and the EU and to remove so-called barriers to trade. In practice this means a regulatory race to the bottom as standards are lowered to suit US corporate interests. Europe will come under pressure from the US to dismantle or water down regulations that have been democratically established to protect public health and the environment. A particular area of concern is genetically modified organisms (GMOs). European regulations on GMOs are much stricter than in the US and will come under attack as a barrier to trade.

The TTIP negotiations are being conducted behind closed doors, even though the outcomes will affect all citizens. Civil society organisations have been pressuring the EU Commission to open the TTIP negotiations to public scrutiny, so far in vain. Corporations, however, have privileged access, with industry being invited to submit wish lists for “regulatory barriers” they would like removed.

This article originally published by Green America.

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