Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!
The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.
TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.
Posted November 8, 2012 by Ben Lilliston
It didn’t make headlines, but Tuesday was the start of an important movement to reform our food and agriculture system by restoring our democracy. Statewide initiatives in Montana and Colorado, and local measures in Massachusetts, San Francisco, Chicago and Oregon, all opposed the role of corporations in political campaigns; they all passed by convincing margins.
These efforts to get corporate money out of politics are linked to the devastating Supreme Court Citizens United ruling in 2010 (see the Story of Stuff’s great video for the lowdown). That ruling, for the first time, allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to push their issues in political campaigns. IATP and many others issued a statement last week calling to get money out of politics and an end to voter suppression laws.
The Citizens United ruling has unquestionably changed the way campaigns are run—just ask your poor friends in swing states still suffering from political advertisement overload, or browse the Wall Street Journal’s reporting of $560 million in SuperPac money. How campaigns are run affect how politicians govern—particularly in Washington where favors and retribution are a powerful currency.
Though not directly a result of the Citizens United ruling, there is perhaps no better example of the overwhelming influence of corporate money in campaigns than the Proposition 37 vote in California, which would require labeling for genetically engineered foods. Labeling has consistently enjoyed 80–90 percent public approval ratings. After Prop 37 gained significant early traction, the big pesticide and food companies, like Monsanto, DuPont and Pepsico, flew into a panic and flooded the airwaves with misleading ads about the costs of labeling. The Minnesota-based global giant, Cargill, actually wrote to its “farmer customers” encouraging them to donate to defeat Prop 37. These agribusiness and food companies succeeded in essentially buying the election by outspending the opposition $46 million to $9 million. Nevertheless, labeling supporters ran an inspiring grassroots campaign, garnering more than 4 million votes, and have laid the groundwork for future efforts to challenge corporate power in the food system.
Efforts to label genetically engineered food, limit unnecessary overuse of antibiotics in factory farms, antitrust enforcement in agriculture and many other initiatives to shift power in our food and agriculture system will now shift to Washington. These fights will have limited success unless they are linked to efforts to restore our democracy. The wins this week in state and local initiatives supporting the overthrow of Citizens United give us reason for hope.