What if I don’t want to be exposed to GM products or have my internet activity monitored? ‘Tough luck’ will be the standard reply if TTIP goes through

 

Do you enjoy internet privacy? What about regulations on controversial products like GMOs and toxic pesticides? If the Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) is agreed upon by the EU and the U.S., you can kiss those rights and regulations goodbye.

The TTIP, if passed, will open unrestricted trade between the U.S. and the EU. The partnership, it is believed, will make it easier to import and export goods across the Atlantic. It’s also supposed to open doors for firms to establish themselves in both the U.S. and the EU. Many even believe that this will create more tangible economic competition between China and the West.

Its supporters tout the trade agreement’s abilities to kick-start the economy, spread economic influence, create jobs, help emerging economies, and enable a more apt response to border conflicts. They maintain the mantra that imports will meet health, safety, and environmental standards, and that any EU government can run public services and enact rules or laws halting certain imports for the protection of its people and the environment.

‘What TTIP will do is remove a whole range of barriers to European companies exporting to the US. That is why so many small businesses—those who cannot afford the armies of lawyers bigger companies can employ to smooth the path—have made clear they are right behind the deal’, says European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, a supporter and architect for the agreement.

But what these trade agreement supporters fail to mention is how much power is being given to corporate bodies.

Though shrouded in secrecy for much of its negotiations, the TTIP has gained large amounts of negative attention recently. And although nothing has been finalized, reports show that imports are already entering the EU that go against longstanding safety regulations. Five GM products have already been introduced to EU markets, along with meat washed with lactic acid and crops that were exposed to 31 pesticides—all of which have been linked to infertility and cancer.

And if this is happening even before negotiations have finished, what does that mean for the future of pre-existing food, the environment, and safety regulations?

Nothing good.

If this trade agreement is passed and trade is opened, in what looks like an unrestricted manner, the EU can plan on being introduced to a much laxer, American system of restrictions and regulations. And let’s not forget, in the EU a product has to be proven safe in order not to be banned, whereas in the United States, in order for a product or ingredient to be banned, it has to be proven unsafe.

Compromises like these have led to widespread protest and outcry.

Three million people in Europe have already signed a petition against the deal. In Berlin and Brussels, marches have taken place over the last few weeks, the number of protestors ranging from 2,100 in Brussels, to 250,000 in Berlin.

Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now—an anti-poverty group that has extensively worked to thwart the passing of this trade agreement—is worried about the impact of the TTIP if changes aren’t  made to certain policies.

‘TTIP is about forcing governments to see the whole of society from the viewpoint of big business. Every regulation which is important to society, workers’ rights or environmental protection becomes simply an obstacle to profit’.

Interests have shifted from public protection to money-making, leaving it up to the companies to decide what does and doesn’t work for them. And businesses in each of the countries included are more than happy to accept the trade agreement—with all of its perks.

The introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) is a huge area of concern for many of those opposed to the deal as they give a seemingly infinite amount of power to businesses and corporations—allowing them to sue any governmental power for infringing on their ability to make a profit. Essentially, if a government enacts a policy that protects some environmental initiative, and that policy keeps a company from making a profit, they will be able to sue the government for creating that policy in the first place—even though it was for the protection of the people and the environment, a right that TTIP supporters say will remain with EU governments.

Not only will this deal give limitless power to corporations, but it also allows for the infringement of the public’s right to privacy—specifically in regards to internet privacy.

Do you remember ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)? It allowed for the monitoring of online activity by internet providers—which was an obvious infringement of privacy, resulting in it being nixed in 2012 by the European Parliament.

The new trade agreement should instil that same kind of fear and trepidation despite some companies pushing to have more control over the internet, its content, and what they can or can’t block from users.

While TTIP and ACTA aren’t one and the same, they share certain elements, such as making it easier for one’s internet activity to be monitored, as well as allowing companies to get access to private information.

What’s even scarier is that this is just the information we know.

But if this isn’t enough to make you angry as hell—if this isn’t enough to make you question the motives behind the deal and the overwhelmingly negative consequences that we are bound to face in the wake of its passing—I’m not sure what could be.

 

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/18/prospect-ttip-deal-undermining-eu-food-standards-gmos

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-is-already-letting-big-business-shape-our-laws-a6700051.html

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/about-ttip/

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letter-in-defence-of-ttip-and-my-role-as-eu-trade-commissioner-a6695041.html