Today April 18 across Europe thousands and thousands of people are taking actions against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a massive trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and US, that could have major implications for our food standards if completed.
The official line is that this will create jobs and increase economic growth. However, the beneficiaries of these agreements are not in fact citizens, but big corporations.
One of the most unfair parts of these trade agreements is the inclusion of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process. This enables corporations to sue governments in “private tribunals” for policies that frustrate their expected profits.
Another part concerns foodstuff standards and consumer protection. Laws that check our foods are safe or minimise the risk to people or the planet could be compromised if TTIP goes ahead. Europe’s food production and many of European laws are often stricter than in the US. Yet big business wants food products currently banned in the EU, but on sale in America, to automatically be allowed in Europe through TTIP.
For example beef cows in the US are regularly given hormone drug implants to promote faster growth prior to slaughter. Use of hormones – including oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and their synthetic versions – has been allowed in the US since the 1950s. The EU has banned the sale of hormone-treated beef in Europe since 1981, reaffirming this in 2003, due to public health concerns.
Another case related to consumer protection and food standars that will be compromised by TTIP concerns the use of ractopamine, a drug given to pigs, cattle and turkeys as a growth promoter to build muscle. It’s fed to 80% of pigs in the USA. The EU banned its use in 1996, because its use “may be dangerous to consumers”. The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that risks to human health cannot be ruled out: a classic example of putting public safety before the profits of agri-business, the so called precautionary principle.
At the moment 1,691,000 people from all Europe signed the petition #StopTTIP: what will the European Union do? Will they take care about the citizens or will sell the quality of their life to the corporations?