Information has been received about the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) which works ‘locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice’ to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.
In the mid-1980s, family farmers across America were in great difficulties – like many in Britain. Prices had dropped below the cost of production. Family farmers were told they were inefficient and they had to either get big or get out and these charges are still made against those producing food on a smaller scale.
Then and now, deeply flawed national and international policies were the root cause of the crisis. In an effort to save the family farm the IATP was set up. In 1986, IATP began to record the underlying causes of America’s rural crisis and to propose policies that would benefit farmers, consumers, rural communities and the environment. Within a global coalition, IATP advocates fair trade policies that promote strong health standards, labour and human rights, the environment and democratic institutions.
IATP raises further serious concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated
The task of reading and commenting on the draft negotiating texts is officially restricted to TTIP negotiators and security cleared advisors, mostly corporate representatives. However a draft chapter of the TTIP, which concerns Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues (SPS), relating to food safety and animal and plant health, was ‘leaked’ this week. An IATP analyst says, “the chapter clearly indicates that negotiators continue to subordinate SPS regulations to the object of maximizing trade”. Concerns cited include:
A plus for U.S. meat and food companies which could jeopardize food safety for consumers
- The text supports no requirement for port of entry food inspections and testing – the U.S. approach – meaning that food contamination outbreaks will be harder to trace to their origin, and liability harder to assess. Such a trade agreement could make it more difficult to restrict imports from countries with animal or plant diseases, such as Mad Cow Disease or plant fungus outbreaks.
- Laws or rules on agriculture animal welfare passed by a U.S. state or EU member state could not be enforced and used to prevent import of products from abused animals.
Will the TTIP Oversight Body, refer unresolved SPS concerns to a Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism resembling the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)?
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has ’denounced’ the ICSID convention and Ecuador, folloing Bolivia, has withdrawn from membership, terminating several bilateral investment treaties. The Investment Arbitration Reporter explains that Ecuador was particularly angered (below) by a series of rulings ordering the Republic to refrain from collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in windfall levy payments from energy companies – at least while ICSID arbitrators examined whether such levies breach the terms of investment contracts and/or treaties. Argentina is also considering withdrawal from ICSID.
Will the ISDS also have a private tribunal of trade lawyers, not a public court of law, to decide whether U.S. or EU SPS rules, laws or enforcement measures violated TTIP? Will such a private tribunal determine the amount of compensation that the EU/U states would have to pay investors for loss of anticipated benefits under TTIP?
IATP’s analyst, Dr. Steve Suppan comments: “It’s an affront to democracy that the public need to rely on leaked documents to find out how these agreements could affect health and safety.”
Read the complete leaked chapter text for more information.