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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Trans-Pacific Partnership Breaks Down Sovereignty and GMO Protections

By Aaron Dykes on August 21, 2013
Multilateral trade agreement crafted by megacorporations would undermine jobs, expand GMOs and Big Pharma, restrict Internet freedom and strengthen global government.

Japan is joining negotiations with 11 other countries in an ongoing effort to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership that participants hope to finalize by the end of the year. Led by the U.S., partner nations already on board include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Brunei, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Many voices in the public, however, oppose the deal on the grounds that its formation favors the business interests of megacorporations who would profit off of global trade at the expense of internet freedom, national sovereignty, food independence and jobs. Moreover, the deal has been worked out largely in secret and without consulting Congress.

U.S. trade representative Michael Froman visited Japan ahead of the TPP negotiation to iron out agreements and rally against protective interests in Japan who see the agreement, and particularly its loosening of tariffs as a threat. According to the WSJ, concerns persist over the ‘rice, beef, pork, dairy, wheat and sugar’ markets and other industries:

Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives adopted a declaration on Aug. 8. saying it has “grave problems” with the TPP, as it could jeopardize food safety and universal healthcare services, and undermine the nation’s sovereignty. “It’s extremely regrettable that the government has entered the negotiations without clarifying such concerns,” the statement said.

Mr. Froman said “Barriers to access to Japan’s automotive and insurance markets, and non-tariff measures and other sectoral and cross-cutting areas hold back growth and innovation, undermine competitiveness, and hurt workers, businesses and consumers in both our countries.” [emphasis added]

Michael Froman’s previously worked with Citigroup and was a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, putting him in square alliance with unlimited globalization. The CFR recently interviewed Mireya Solís, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, who described the gravity of trade represented under the TPP.

Japan’s participation in the latest round could “triple the economic gains that the United States can expect from the TPP,” Solís says, and “with Japan on board, the Asian identity of the TPP is more than solidified.” The TPP currently comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Japan, the United States, and Vietnam, which together make up roughly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and about a third of world trade.

[...] To be frank, we are talking about a level of liberalization when it comes to Japan that is unprecedented.

Globalization agreements, including the likes of GATT, WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and other multilateral treaties, establish more than just trade between nations. Their deconstruction of trade barriers and tariffs are touted for creating cheaper goods, but often criticized for hurting farmers, small businesses, home-based industries, environmental factors and workers.

GMO / Agribusiness Dominance

One of the major concerns that have been raised about the scope of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is its impact on genetically modified foods, which observers say will favor big players in the biotech industry and undermine labeling laws and bans on growing GMO crops and/or imports.

While the North American Union nations – U.S., Canada and Mexico – have no labeling laws for GM foods, Australia, New Zealand and Japan do. Further, Peru recently declared a 10-year moratorium on genetically modified crops, but the TPP deal could change that.

The leader of the Greens party in Australia critiqued the plan, blaming the ‘push for a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific’ as part of an attempt ‘to remove a ban on genetically modified crops.’ Senator Christine Milne said:

“It is supported by both parties and if it goes through [it] will open up Tasmania to be sued by giant international companies who want to push their GMOs [genetically modified organisms] here.”

Barbara Chicherio, treasurer of the Gateway Green Alliance, charges that negotiations have included more than 600 industry lobbyists with unparalleled secrecy and little input from Congress:

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits. There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text.

Specifically, previous rounds of TPP negotiations have sought an agreement not to interfere with the importation of so-called “low level presence” GMO foods. Proponents of this point hope to avoid “creating an artificial trade barrier due to the possibility of very low levels of dust or commingling in other grain shipments” – despite legitimate concerns about contamination.

Phillips and Brian Innes, market access manager for the Canola Council of Canada, who favor GMOs on the market argue:

said science-based policies related to maximum residue levels of crop protection products and biotechnology will help improve both trade and international food security.

“The reality in the world today is that biotechnology is playing a central role in crop production, and we need strong policies that facilitate trade and avoid unnecessary non-tariff trade barriers,” said Innes.

Internet Freedom

The Electronic Frontier Foundation outlined the case to block the TPP in the following video on grounds that it would make enforcement of intellectual property rights stronger, limiting internet freedom:

Global “Governance”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership goes beyond specific arrangements benefiting corporations and extents towards the creation of global structures.

The New American explained how the agreement is being used to create regional control structures : MORE>>