Powerful lobby attacks food safety at Brussels trade talks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis released today by Friends of the Earth-Europe and other respected food safety watchdog groups reveals disturbing news: U.S. and European Union trade negotiators meeting in Brussels this week are actively promoting the agenda of biotechnology, chemical and agricultural industry lobbyists. Under the terms of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, food safety standards on both sides of the Atlantic will be lowered.
According to the analysis, the recently released EU proposal for the TTIP chapter on food safety and animal welfare would undermine the ability of local or regional governments to set higher standards, such as banning genetically engineered crops, restricting harmful chemicals or pesticides, or restricting antibiotic use in factory farming. The proposal would shift decision making on food safety to a new trade committee and away from national and European decision-makers.
The American news media and public cannot see the corresponding U.S. proposals for the TTIP food safety chapter because such U.S. negotiating documents are treated as state secrets.
“We know that the staff of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office operates like a branch office for the powerful Biotechnology Industry Organization and other corporate agriculture lobby groups,” said William Waren, senior trade analyst with Friends of the Earth. “It is no secret that former USTR staffers who worked on food safety issues have moved to influential positions at BIO and similar industry lobbies. Similarly, former staff or counsels of such industry groups now work for the USTR. This revolving door and culture of secrecy has resulted in trade agreements that put the interests of multinational agribusinesses above the interests of a safe and sustainable food system.
Lisa Archer, the director of Friends of the Earth’s Food and Technology program, commented:
“The analysis by Friends of the Earth Europe and other advocates of EU proposals for food safety provisions in the transatlantic trade deal raises serious concerns about the negative impact of this trade deal on public health safeguards and local and state decision making power. The secret U.S. negotiating proposals will likely be worse, reflecting the corrosive and outsized influence of corporate lobbyists from chemical, biotech and industrial agriculture industries, among others, in the making of U.S. trade policy that puts the interests of large multinationals ahead of our health and environment.”
Read the press release of Friends of the Earth Europe.
Read the analysis.