by Julian Rose
December 17, 2014
"What emerges is an understanding of TTIP as the political
project of a transatlantic corporate and political elite which,
on the unfounded promise of increased trade and job creation,
will attempt to reverse social and environmental regulatory
protections, redirect legal rights from citizens to
corporations, and consolidate U.S. and European global leadership
in a changing world order."
(Seattle to Brussels Network, Kim Bizzarri)
A key element of this Transatlantic Trade
Agreement, but only one of hundreds of highly controversial
proposals, is the move to deregulate the status currently accorded
to imports of GM seeds and plants for cultivating in European soils.
A determined effort by all of us, who care about real food and real
farming, will be needed to stop one of the most insidious attempts
yet to end Europe's widespread resistance to genetically modified
organisms. In particular, the use of GM seeds in European
agriculture, leading to genetically modified crops being grown in
areas that have, up until now, successfully resisted the GM
The EU has so far licensed just one GM maize variety (MON
810) to be grown within its territories, and one potato
for industrial starch production.
Up until now, the EU has acted according to a largely
restrictive trade practice concerning GM and other controversial
food products due to major public pressure, as well as under a broad
EU ruling termed 'the precautionary principle'.
All that could be about to go out the window under current
negotiations between the USA and the European Commission to ratify a
new trade agreement known
TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership.
The objective of this 'partnership' (and
the TPP as well) is to
facilitate far going corporate control of the international market
place and to prize-open the mostly closed (but not locked) European
door on GM crops and seeds.
While this corporate heist is being eased into place, replicas are
being negotiated between Canada and the EU under the title
'Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement'
And as if that wasn't enough, a further dismantling of trade tariffs
is underway via the 'Trade In Services Agreement'
TiSA: a wide ranging further
liberalization of corporate trading conditions as a direct
continuation of the WTO (World Trade Organization) GATS agreement,
with its highly onerous, corporate biased 'Codex
Alimentarius' sanitary and hygiene rulings.
Indigenous seeds and medicinal herbs are particularly
under attack via Codex.
We can thus recognize, from the outset, that a very dangerous
interference of the already leaky checks and balances that control
the import/export market is underway here. The thinly disguised
under-text reveals plans for a massive corporate take-over of all
negotiated quasi-democratic trade agreements and food quality
controls that currently take place between the U.S. and EU.
It is clear that the major corporate concerns are
determined to overcome or dilute, all resistance to their unfettered
'free trade' goals.
Where they are blocked, corporations are claiming the right to sue
governments and institutions held to be 'infringing the principle of
international free trade.' Such litigation procedures are not new,
but the idea of writing them into a major trading agreement has
sparked major controversy.
For example in Germany, where one of the main Swedish
nuclear power construction companies is suing the German government
for billions of Euros, with the intention of gaining full
compensation for the ban on nuclear power enacted earlier by the
To add a further sinister twist to this already draconian exercise
in power politics, the court hearings on such actions are slated to
take place in secret, in a court house
in Washington DC.
Such secret courts are already operational in the UK,
where 'sensitive cases' can be heard out of sight of public scrutiny
with no reports or summaries of the proceedings released into the
Here we witness
the Orwellian control system
fully up and running,
with its attendant undisguised destruction of many decades of hard
won civil liberties.
The unremitting and relentless nature of this neo-capitalist and
corporate centralization of power is causing significant resistance
to manifest itself:
"The opposition in Europe to a transatlantic free
trade area believes it has the momentum, buoyed by scare stories
regularly amplified by the European media. A petition against
the trade act surpassed the 1 million mark this week."
We are all going to have to get involved to ensure a
people led victory.
For the purpose of this summary, I am not able to cover the full
gamut of trading controversies being brought to a head by the
ongoing negotiations, preferring to concentrate on the food and
But it is very important not to loose sight of the
true intention behind all aspects of these nefarious trade
As a precursor to TTIP, a major shift in GMO legislation was already
voted-in by the EU's Environmental Council on 12 June 2014 (the
final vote to be taken in the European Parliament, January 2015).
After many years of EU member state disagreement on
GM issues - leading to negotiation stalemate - this controversial
agreement devolves GMO decision making procedures from Brussels to
EU member states.
In the process however, it gives the green light to pro GMO
governments to allow the planting of GM crops in their countries,
while anti GM member states can put forward economic and
environmental health arguments to ban GM crops.
Under the first draft of this agreement, countries
wishing to block GM plantings were called upon to seek permission to
ban such crops from the very corporations that are proposing to
A proposal whose unprecedented arrogance echoes the
corporate agenda of TTIP and CETA trade proposals (and
the TPP as well).
Fortunately, after intensive public lobbying, this clause was
dropped (November 11, 2014, Environment, Public Health and Food
Nevertheless, what we have in front of our eyes is a strong GMO
A dual alert in fact:
Firstly owing to the EU Commission's
devolvement of 'the right to decide' to member states
Secondly owing to the TTIP agreement, which,
if ratified, would allow GM crops and seeds currently banned
in Europe - as well as various medicated animal products
such as U.S. hormone enriched beef - to have a largely
unrestricted flow into the EU
By-passing, in the process, the 'precautionary
principle' and the European Food Safety Agency's views (for
what they are worth) on the efficacy of such products.
The TTIP agreement - if fully ratified - will, in effect, remove any
differences in trade related legislation between the EU and U.S..
In corporate speak, such differences are held up as
being 'trade distorting'. TTIP could also be used to attack positive
food related initiatives in the U.S., such as 'local preference'
legislation at the state level.
It calls for 'mutual recognition' between trading
blocks: trade speak for lowering standards.
Consumer groups have already pointed out that mutual recognition of
standards is not an acceptable approach since it will require at
least one of the parties to accept food that is not of a currently
To put it in simple terms:
the pressure to lower standards in Europe to
'resolve the inconsistencies' will be strong, and far more
likely to succeed than the other solution: to raise standards in
Phrases like 'harmonization' and 'regulatory
cooperation' are a frequently occurring part of TTIP trade speak.
But in the end it's all going one way:
downwards... to the lowest common denominator.
According to Corporate Europe Observatory:
"Under TTIP's chapter on 'regulatory cooperation'
any future measure that could lead us towards a more sustainable
food system, could be deemed 'a barrier to trade' and thus
refused before it sees the light of day.
Big business groups like Business Europe and the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been pushing for this corporate
lobby dream scenario before the U.S.-EU negotiations ever began.
What they want from regulatory cooperation is to
essentially co-write legislation and to establish a permanent
EU-U.S. dialogue to work towards harmonizing standards long after
TTIP has been signed.
Despite earlier reservations, the Commission now
seems to go along with with this corporate dream.
Leaked EU proposals from December 2013 outline a
new system of regulatory cooperation between the EU and U.S., that
will enable decisions to be made without any public oversight or
What this means is that new, highly controversial GM
seed lines will have virtually no publicly scrutinized safety-net to
slow or halt their progress to the fields and dinner plates of
One of the most determined voices behind the realization of TTIP's
ambitions is ex Polish Prime Minister,
As The Guardian
"Taking office this week as the new president of
the European Council, chairing summits and mediating between
national leaders, Donald Tusk, Poland's former prime minister,
singled out TTIP as one of his main priorities for the year
Tusk, as prime minister of Poland, had already
displayed his bias towards big business, by backing strategies to
sell tranches of Poland's most productive farmland to the highest
foreign bidders, while simultaneously cozying-up to the EU
Commission's big chiefs.
Tusk is complicit, if not a leading voice, in
supporting the overt centralization of political power in Brussels
and the steady dismantling of national sovereignty:
the right for countries to decide and control
their own future.
TTIP and CETA are perfect weapons for the long
planned for destruction of national sovereignty.
Trade negotiators, GM exponents, big farming unions,
agrichemical businesses and food processing giants are all in on the
game and have strong lobby groups backing TTIP.
Their view on what the word 'cooperation' means goes
"A system of regulatory cooperation would prevent
'bad decisions' - thereby avoiding having to take governments to
(Corporate Europe Observatory)
These 'bad decisions' constitute any attempts by
governments to rein-in the overt lust for power which is the
hallmark of the corporate elite.
For example, biotech and pesticide giants Syngenta
and Bayer, are taking the European Union to court over its partial
ban on three insecticides from the Neonicotinoid family, because of
deadly impact on bees.
However let us be clear, the European Union is only
acting this way because of intense public pressure to do so; left to
its own devices there would be no discernible difference between it
and the corporate elite who stalk the corridors of power at the
European Commission and European Parliament.
The underlying goal of 'regulatory cooperation' between industry and
the EU, is to have a continuous 'on going' dialogue (known as
'living agreement') that could ultimately render any final TTIP
agreement largely meaningless.
Meaningless, because it could by-pass any failures of
TTIP to gain concessions on food and environmental standards by
focusing on altering 'implementation rules' - rather than taking the
more arduous route of altering 'the law' itself.
Tinkering with 'implementation rules' simply offers
another way for corporate friendly concessions to become enshrined
in common trading rights.
Reassurances from EU and U.S. negotiators that "food standards will
not be lowered" look highly suspect. Farmers should be alert to the
fact that, because of TTIP, imports are highly likely be allowed
that do not meet local standards, thus undermining national trading
This applies across the spectrum and includes currently non
According to Corporate Europe
"Regulatory convergence will fundamentally change
the way politics is done in the future, with industry sitting
right at the table, if they get their way."
If they get their way.
All groups and organizations that care about retaining a largely GMO
Free Europe and the consumption of genuine, healthy food - in tandem
with the ecological farming methods that produce it - had better
jump to the task of stopping TTIP, and its related trading blocks,
from destroying the last line of defence against
a complete corporate take-over of the food
Join the resistance...! Check the Internet and join one of the
groups in your area that are committed to blocking TTIP, TPP and/or