Could TTIP threaten healthy sustainable diets?
Food and trade experts are warning that the TTIP trade agreement being negotiated between the US and EU could threaten public health, consumer rights and animal welfare standards.
Negotiators from both sides of the Atlantic met in closed sessions in Brussels recently to begin writing new food safety rules for the trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
A new briefing - How TTIP undermines food safety and animal welfare - from Friends of the Earth Europe, Compassion in World Farming, IATP, Grain and the Center for Food Safety, says TTIP is likely to restrict efforts to build healthier, fairer and more sustainable food systems on both sides of the Atlantic.
In their analysis of a document about the deal recently published by the EU, the NGOs show that officials are planning a major 'power grab' that will put trade interests before food safety concerns.
The NGO analysis shows that the EU proposals would reduce the possibility of restricting the use of hormones as well as other chemicals in factory-farmed animals by establishing a new transatlantic body to filter all future food safety and animal welfare rules, apparently aiming to facilitate trade "to the greatest extent possible".
This could mean that initial decisions on food safety would be shifted to the new trade committee and away from national and European decision-makers, while reducing countries' individual rights to inspect food and agricultural imports at the port of entry; a key measure used to safeguard public health.
The changes could expose the public to more food scandals and pollution by making the EU and US move to accept international food safety standards which are generally accepted to be weaker. They would also undermine local or regional powers to set higher standards, such as banning GM crops or restricting antibiotic use in factory farming.
Hundreds of people demonstrated against the so-called 'Trojan Horse Treaty' while the officials were meeting in Brussels in February.
Adrian Bebb, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said, "This trade agreement is a Trojan horse that will threaten our food safety and environment. Trade officials whose primary objective is to increase trade and boost corporate profits will have first say over future food safety rules. A trade agreement is not the place to decide about our food safety.
"The TTIP will lead to the long term decline of safety standards, opening the door to increased trade in industrially-produced foods and lining the pockets of the corporations that control them. This means more GM foods, pollution and factory farms, as well as less choice for citizens."
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for the TTIP to be stopped and efforts put into strengthening local sustainable food economies that benefit citizens and the environment and boost local economies.
Eating Better has already highlighted concerns that TTIP might impact the quality of meat on our supermarket shelves. There are fears that it would see small scale agriculture pushed aside in favour of bigger intensive systems and that the market will be swamped with cheaper imports produced with less regard for animal welfare.
How TTIP undermines food safety and animal welfare, by IATP, Grain, Center for Food Safety, Compassion in World Farming and Friends of the Earth Europe is downloadable here.
A new briefing TTIP: A Recipe for Disaster: EU-US Trade Deal blocks future of good food and farming also provides further background briefing. The organisations behind the briefing says TTIP will promote an industrial model of food and farming, threatening the survival of small family farms, local food initiatives, standards for healthy and safe food, animal welfare, the environment, and public health. Copies can be downloaded here.