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Congress shouldn’t buy Obama Administration spin and reject TPP

Minneapolis/Washington D.C.– After six years of negotiations behind closed doors, the 12 governments that make up the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) have finally made their agreement public—and the news is not good. The lengthy, 30 chapter agreement, plus important fine-print annexes written in trade law language will take time to fully analyze. But, a first review of the deal finds the TPP includes a number of much-criticized provisions including those that grant greater legal power to foreign corporations to challenge national and local regulations. IATP has criticized the secretive TPP negotiations for its potentially serious impacts on farmers and ranchers, consumer labeling, food safety regulations, farm to school programs and other state and local policies supporting local food systems.

“Multinational agribusiness companies wanted this deal—it provides them a framework to lower regulations and expand their market power in multiple countries,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, IATP Director of International Strategies. “The TPP is modeled after past free trade deals that have made wildly inaccurate promises about benefits for farmers. Instead, hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families have been pushed off the land during this era of free trade, beginning with NAFTA.”

The TPP further entrenches a system of agriculture geared toward global markets and propped up by an ineffective Farm Bill. U.S. farmers produce grains, oilseeds and meat and dairy products for sale to agribusiness exporters at prices often below the cost of production. TPP simultaneously opens up U.S. agricultural markets to cheap imports, such as milk protein concentrate, which will undermine prices for U.S. dairy farmers.

Of particular concern are TPP chapters that could reduce the food safety inspection capacity of food imports and the inclusion of investor state rules where foreign corporations have already challenged a wide range of environmental and consumer laws around the world for alleged loss of anticipated profits.

“The TPP opens up the U.S. to a flood of seafood, dairy, fruit and vegetable imports at a time when Congress refuses to fund the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and when the food industry refuses to pay for the regulatory services to expedite imports,” said IATP Senior Policy Analyst Steve Suppan. “U.S. food safety and environmental health agencies, battered by 25 years of successful food and agribusiness industry efforts to weaken and de facto privatize the regulatory process, lack the resources and enforcement tools to protect consumers and the environment from the unsafe food and invasive species that will come with the TPP’s weak import controls.”  

“The TPP does not even mention the words `climate change,’ despite the many ways in which this agreement will undermine policies designed to help countries’ reach their climate goals,” said IATP’s Climate Director Ben Lilliston. “This deal would expand an extractive mode of globalization that has led to mass deforestation, fossil fuel withdrawal and an energy-intensive industrial model of agriculture. As the U.S. and other TPP countries make their climate pledges and travel to Paris in December to finalize a new global climate deal, they should fully assess the climate implications of this trade deal.”

Despite major implications for the nation’s economy and food and farm system, the Obama Administration negotiated the TPP in secret, repeatedly denying calls for a more transparent and participatory process. Earlier this year, Congress barely passed the controversial Fast Track legislation which prohibits Members of Congress from amending the deal. Instead, they are limited to only an up or down vote on what is considered the largest so-called “free trade” deal in history.

IATP has written several analyses of the implications of the TPP, based on leaked text and news reports:

Food Import Re-Inspection and the “High Standards” of 21st Century Trade Agreements

Big Meat Swallows the Trans Pacific Partnership

Who’s Century is it? The Trans Pacific Partnership, Food and a 21st Century Trade Agreement

Who’s at the Table? Demanding Answers on Agriculture in the Trans Pacific Partnership

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