CFS International Programs Director to Brief Congress
Center for Food Safety (CFS) today released a report examining the potential food and farming impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a broad trade agreement currently under negotiation by the United States and the European Union. CFS international programs director, Debbie Barker, will present the report to Congress at a briefing scheduled for May 15, 2014. Ms. Barker will speak at 10:00 am at 2237 Rayburn House Office Building.
European Union trade negotiators will arrive in Arlington, Virginia, next week (May 19-23) to begin the fifth round of TTIP talks. Although TTIP negotiations cover a vast range of issues, food safety and regulatory standards are among the most contentious topics. Food and farm issues being negotiated under TTIP include: GE crops, GE labeling, animal drugs and hormones, animal welfare, livestock antibiotics, chemically washed poultry, nanotechnology, and other issues.
“Many people don't know that these secret negotiations may undermine efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to protect our food, our health, and our environment,” said Debbie Barker, international program director at Center for Food Safety. “Trade agreements, such as TTIP, profoundly impact our food and our farms. Education is the first step toward participation.”
The CFS report also examines the “highly undemocratic, non-transparent TTIP negotiating process.” Additionally, it explores how powerful enforcement mechanisms, such as investor-state provisions, can leap frog over domestic food and public health regulations.
Little discussed is how agricultural trade policies impact food, the environment, and society. For example, a few decades ago, most food was grown primarily for local populations. However, today, the average plate of food travels 1500 miles before landing on your dinner table. This contributes to major environmental crises of our time including global warming and also impacts food safety and rural economies. Another example, when the North American Free Trade Association opened the door to a flood of highly subsidized U.S. corn imports into Mexico, nearly 2.5 million Mexicans dependent on farms lost their livelihoods. As a result, immigration rates into the U.S. spiked as Mexican farmers and laborers came to the United States in search of work.
“What industry and trade officials often refer to as ‘trade barriers’ are actually democratically crafted food safety and public health safeguards,” added Barker. “Those of us concerned about the food we feed our families must get involved before it is too late.”
Ms. Debbie Barker will be speaking at a Congressional briefing on TTIP on May 15, 2014, at 10 a.m. in 2237 Rayburn House Office Building. She will be educating members of Congress and their staff about the trade negotiations' impact on food and farming before the fifth round of TTIP talks scheduled to begin in the Washington D.C. area May 19 – May 23, 2014.