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Pacta sunt servanda – Agreements must be kept –

Pacta sunt servanda – Agreements must be kept –

Caveat about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from the UK‘s perspective.

What are the consequences for our food?
This agreement sounds like a step forwards to boost economic growth and put an end to the economic crisis, but it’s actually a huge and irreversible leap backwards. In the name of sacrosanct free-market economics and unbridled competition, the TTIP aims to tackle regulations allegedly hindering commercial exchange opportunities. All very well you may say. But what exactly do they mean by ‘regulations’? Regulations come with tariffs, but also non-tariff barriers; these ones are all social, environmental and engineering standards, which a country decides to apply to production and goods flowing through its territory. This catchall term ‘regulations’, conceals more than it reveals and here is why:

The TTIP stipulates that both of the stakeholders must mutually agree to compliance with their laws and procedures. This harmonisation implies recognition and acceptance of the operative rules and standards. So far, so good. Now it just so happens that we do not have the same standards as the USA. What happens then? This is not rocket science! What we are seeing is a template that tends to lead to the lowest common denominator, which is the race to the bottom in EU social, health and environmental standards. The lower standards will have the last word. To put it simply: what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable. Thus, the highly influential Biotechnology Industry Organization, which includes the agro-industrial giant Monsanto, is indignant about GMO products legally sold in the US being barred from the European market.

So, instead of signing an agreement that would improve our future, we are actually saying yes to: Ractopamine*, produce saturated with pesticides, GMOs, battery-farmed chickens rinsed with chlorine, cattle fed with growth hormones… tantalizing! This agreement will result in the abolition of consumer and environmental standards currently protecting us against a downward spiral. In short, this pact is a disaster for the freedom to feed ourselves as we wish.

When this agreement is signed, our agricultural choices and food safety standards will be out of our hands. To preserve our best interests: our food biodiversity, our consumer rights, our small-scale farming and our freedom to choose the food we want to eat, it is important to understand what is at stake and to oppose this pact.

What are the consequences for our legislation?
This brings us to the second most dramatic pact clause: the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

This clause allows firms to sue a national government in an international court of arbitration if they consider the policies in the territory in which they operate to be hampering their business; even including public health or environmental protection policies.By establishing a new balance of power which is much more favourable to companies than states, the ISDS has the power to abolish the law in force in the state in favour of an agreement signed beforehand, such as the TTIP, which becomes the law of the land.

The adoption of such a pact is synonymous with an obvious loss of national sovereignty. We are talking about governments hauled before the Court of Justice by multinational corporations. Why? Because they consider state legislation, such as labour law or environmental standards, to be too restrictive and responsible for causing them a loss in earnings, for which they demand outrageous levels of compensation. It’s totally beyond belief! And this has already occurred:
Following the decision of the German government to stop the activity of nuclear power plants in its territory after the Fukushima disaster, the Swedish multinational Vattenfall (which has all of two nuclear power plants in Germany) requested €3.7 billion from the German authorities to compensate loss of future profits.

Another nonsensical case: the Dutch insurer Achmea (formerly Eureko) received €22 million from the Slovakian government which had reconsidered the privatisation of its health system.

Finally, Ecuador had to pay $1.7 billion to Occidental Petroleum (the fourth largest U.S. oil company) as compensation for taking over its assets and revoking Occidental’s contract.

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy. It is hardly surprising if you have never heard of it as the TTIP is implemented with total opacity and without citizen consent, and its negotiations violate the rights to transparency and information. We do not want this major and critical issue for the food movement and ecosystem protection to go unnoticed. This pact thereby constitutes a new wave of unprecedented social, environmental and health regressions and seems to be a modern colonisation removing our national sovereignty.

Each of us has a role to play to ensure that our ethos, values and freedom of choice is upheld in our own country. Good food for thought, Rockefeller claimed: “Something must replace governments, and that private power seems to be the adequate entity to do so”. Let us not see that happen, for ourselves as well as future generations.

*Ractopamine is a drug used to get leaner and more proteined meat. This molecule degrades the organoleptic qualities of the meat by reducing the intramuscular fat content. This additive, banned in the EU, is notably used on pigs across atlantics.

4 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. bob gorman

    This cannot be allowed to happen. American greed must not be allowed to consume the whole world.

    Jan 24, 2015 @ 7:15 am

  2. Susan Sullivan

    We need to do something about this now!!!

    Feb 27, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  3. Susan Sullivan

    it’s not a true free market anyway so the competition excuse/ argument is invalid

    Feb 27, 2015 @ 11:52 am

  4. e davies

    TTIP will be disasterous, on several fronts. What sacres me most is that no one seems to be aware that it is on its way…unless it is stopped by the public. But the public isn’t aware of it!

    Mar 25, 2015 @ 7:31 pm



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