Organic farming in the UK could be seriously at risk from a new trade deal being negotiated this year between the USA and the EU, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Businesses in the farming and food industry are particularly vulnerable as TTIP will promote an industrial model of food and farming, threatening the survival of family farms, local food initiatives, standards for healthy and safe food, animal welfare, the environment, and public health (see Jamie Oliver blog). The gains that have been made on food safety such as bans on glyphosate use and GM crops could be wiped out.
UK businesses have now joined forces to express their strong concerns about this secretly negotiated treaty at www.businessagainstTTIP.org. They are asking other UK businesses to join them to show they do not want or need TTIP. Those signing up include Adam Wakeley of Organic Farm Foods, Titus Sharpe of MVF Global (2015 Entrepreneur of the Year), Ben Goldsmith (financer and environmentalist), Safia Minney (CEO of People Tree), and Katharine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood (fashion designers). Please do join them.
TTIP is a deal that has not been designed with most businesses interests at heart. It will undermine EU and UK food businesses by opening up almost all markets to lower animal welfare, chemical and safety standards. From the outset, the US government has explicitly stated that it will use the TTIP negotiations to target EU regulations that block US food exports.
TTIP will force the UK into unfair competition with US firms with lower standards and lower costs, with the predicted loss of at least 680,000 jobs across Europe. Official studies show EU farmers will lose out in this race to the bottom, noting that in the EU the “increase in [US] imports results in a decline in agricultural prices”. An agreement similar to TTIP in North America obliterated farming businesses in Mexico through competition with US agribusiness, with as many as 2 million people losing their jobs.
Ways in which US food production standards differ include: the use of hormones and steroid like boosters in livestock to lift growth or milk yields; sanitising chicken in factories; the use of pesticides known to be carcinogens that the EU has banned; and having no independent review of safety data for GM crops. Around 70% of all processed foods sold in US supermarkets now contain genetically modified ingredients. Additionally, the USA has lower animal welfare standards meaning that, for example, more poultry can be housed in a given area due to smaller cage size requirements. All these practices result in lower costs for US producers. However, rules banned in Europe will be allowed as their regulations will be ‘mutually recognised’ via the new Treaty.
Additionally, an investor protection mechanism in TTIP would empower agribusiness corporations to launch multi-million Euro lawsuits against new laws and policies that could affect their profits.
Business Against TTIP is calling on the UK government and the European Commission to stop the TTIP negotiations, and to ensure instead that trade is regulated to the highest standards for people and the environment. Please do sign up at www.businessagainstTTIP.org – or get in touch info@businessagainstttip
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