A Secret Trade Deal is Threatening Our Safety
By Jim Walsh
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. Nearly 500 corporations and industry trade associations 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:
- Texting TRADE to 69866 to sign the Food & Water Watch petition opposing the TPP and Fast Track.
- Call your member of Congress at 877-852-4710 and tell them to VOTE NO on Fast Tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Safe, healthy and sustainable food is not the only thing on the line with the Trans – Pacific Partnership. You can learn more about the impacts of this dangerous trade agreement by visiting www.foodandwaterwatch.org. If you have an hour or two a week that you can give to help our fight for consumer health and safety, sign-up to volunteer by clicking HERE.