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TTIP

TTIP – The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

TTIP

TTIP is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  It is being negotiated in secret and if it passes, none of our shit will remain unfucked.

The TTIP is a series of trade negotiations, conducted mostly in secret, between the US and the European Union aimed at reducing regulatory barriers to trade. The only reason we know any of this is due to leaked documents and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Well, what’s wrong with that you might well ask (especially if you are a Fox News aficionado).  Free trade is a good thing!

Well, no.  It isn’t always a good thing.  Well, it’s almost always a good thing for big business.  It is not always a good thing for workers or society at large.  TTIP has been called, “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

No Sovereignty For You!

The most controversial part of TTIP are “investor protection” rules.  This would allow US companies that invest in European countries to bypass European courts and directly challenge national sovereignty when they think laws in the host country meant to guard public health, the environment, labor laws, or social protections hamper their ability to make a profit.  

The cases would be heard by a private international tribunal which are not part of the normal judicial system but specifically set up for investment cases.  So a bit like the Hague but not trying war criminals but trying sovereign governments.  And if the corporation win the case, the tax payers of the country being sued will be on the hook for damages.

Vattenfall, a Swedish energy company is seeking 3.7 billion Euro in damages from Germany after Germany voted to phase out nuclear power.

France recently passed a law banning fracking.  Two companies filed suit against the country of France.  How dare those cheese eating surrender monkeys get in the way of big business trying to make a buck by stopping them from poisoning ground water with toxic chemicals.  They’re French!  They don’t need clean water, they only drink wine!

The investor protection rules have recently been getting some push back.  They may be the most nefarious part of TTIP but they are far from the only grotesque.

Agrictulture

80% of the antibiotics in the US are linked to food animal production.  In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked a minimum 23,000 deaths to antibiotic resistance.  If you are eating CAFO meat, and you probably are, you are ingesting these antibiotics.  The use of them in a big reason that antibiotics are no longer as effective as they once were.

The meat industry wants the EU to remove bans on the use of antibiotics and growth hormones.  They also want restrictions on the use of animal by products in animal feed and pet food removed.  Animal by products are blamed for outbreaks of swine fever, foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.  If you want to spend the rest of the day curled in a corner whimpering for your mother, youtube mad cow disease.

Ractopamine is a failed asthma drug that us used in food animals as a growth promoter.  The drug has been banned in 160 countries. Use of the drug has been linked to decreases in reproductive function, birth defects like cleft palate and fused digits, and enlarged hearts. TTIP would help pave the way for it’s use again.

TTIP would also weaken provisions for animal welfare.  The EU banned battery cages for chickens in 2011.  TTIP could overturn the ban.

TTIP would mandate fast track approval for GMO seeds.  I know GMO’s are controversial and some people who are against them have been accused of being right up there with anti-vaccers.  But at least with the current regulations in place, they could be tested for an appropriate length of time before being green lighted.

The Environment

In Europe, a company must prove that a substance is safe before it is approved for use.  In the US the opposite is true, it can be used until it is proven unsafe.  TTIP would allow the US model in Europe.

Deregulated trade, resource extraction and consumption under TTIP are estimated to add eleven million metric tons of CO2 into the environment.

There would be delays in stronger rules governing the use of hazardous chemicals and it would hamper innovation of safer substances.  Why spend time and money developing non-toxic alternatives when the toxic ones have carte blanche under TTIP?

Regulations, where there are any, would be based on cost-benefit analysis as defined by profit or the lack of and not costs borne by the people and communities affected by a lack of regulation.

Banking Regulations

Documents that were leaked last summer show EU negotiators putting pressure on their US counterparts to accept agreements that would scale back existing banking regulations and prevent future regulations that would come in conflict with the financial interests of big banks.

We’re all aware of the fact that banking regs were basically the Wild West before the 2008 melt down is what helped to tank most of the world’s economies.  And we’re the ones resisting!  So imagine what the EU negotiators are angling for.

Well, it turns out they are angling for whatever big Wall Street banks are whispering in their ear.  The EU negotiators and Wall Street have teamed up in an effort to exert pressure.  And as evidenced by the derivatives section of the Dodd Frank bill being rewritten by Citibank lobbyists and then passed by Congress a few months ago, Wall Street lobbying is formidable.

Public Services

Public services are in the sites of the TTIP.  TTIP seeks to take away the ability of member states to decide what services stay in the public sector and would hand over power to unelected and unaccountable corporations. Services like education, public health, and water could all be privatized under TTIP rules.  So the UK could kiss the NHS goodbye and free public education could be threatened.

They even want to control water! Many municipalities are facing budget deficits and aging water systems.  As a solution, some cities have looked to abdicate the responsibility to the private sector.  Private water costs up to 80% more than public water.

Nestle is the largest producer of food in the world.  The current chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is like Mr Burns come to life.  He has gone on record as saying, “Access to water is not a public right.”  And it’s no wonder he would like to control the world’s supply from what I assume to be his underground lair.  Nestle profits to the tune of $35 billion a year from bottled water sales.

The US loves to export our culture.  Sometimes that’s a good thing, everyone loves Levi’s and rock n’ roll.  Exporting our culture of government by the corporations, for the corporations is something that should be stopped at home, not exported abroad in order to bring the EU down to our level.

We should be demanding for ourselves the same rights EU citizens have demanded, sometimes fought for, and won.  If the TTIP was good for citizens on either side of the Atlantic, why is it being negotiated in secret?  You already know the answer to the question.

Notes

Electronic Frontier Foundation:  Is working to stop this.  You can get involved via their site.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/julochka/12879823734

 

 

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  • Also an eye-opening article, Candice. One question: Don’t you mean, “As a solution, some cities have looked to abdicate responsibility to the *private* sector,” not “public sector.” It changes the meaning a bit.

    Also, while these articles are inspiring (at least to me), do you think you could also include some suggestions about what we, as readers, can do about these issues? That would take them from exposing injustice to inspiring readers to take action.

    • Candice Elliott

      Gah, thanks for that. I’m my own copy editor and sometimes that stuff sneaks by me. Corrected. I’ve also added a link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation who are working to stop the passage of this thing.

      • I totally understand about being your own copy editor–I’m always terrified of making an error on my blog (which is about grammar, so that would be especially embarrassing). Thanks for adding the link.

      • I dig your writing style, Candice… maybe LMM can hire an “as needed” copy editor for you guys? It would only make excellent articles MORE EXCELLENTER. :)

        • Candice Elliott

          Thank you! Ransom is editing for me now. Much like life, I have an easier time finding someone else’s mistakes than my own!