A new trade and investment agreement under negotiation between the EU and the US could threaten livelihoods in the South West say the Green Party. South West Greens are raising the alarm about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is seeking to remove regulatory differences between the US and EU countries.
The Green Party is concerned that once in place the agreement will take precedence over national and European legislation and give corporations the power to take legal action against regulations that protect employment, the environment, or consumer standards.
Green Party finance speaker, Professor Molly Scott Cato, who is also the Green Party's lead European candidate in the South West said:
"Because the trade deal is being negotiated in secret it is difficult to know exactly what it entails, but suspicions have been aroused that it will seek to undermine EU controls on such environmental threats as GM and neonicotinoid pesticides. The fact that the negotiations are not open and accountable suggests that whatever is being stitched up might attract significant popular opposition if it were made public. I think we can assume that the negotiators are working in the interest of corporations rather than citizens."
Henry Gent, a Devon dairy farmer and also a candidate on the Greens' European list, added:
"In the South West we focus on high-quality produce and high animal welfare standards. In the new trade regime it is likely that corporations that focus on volume rather than quality will be able to undermine the high welfare standards that we have in the UK. In the dairy industry this may mean that we will be forced to accept milk produced from cows that have been given the BST hormone, even though consumers do not want such milk and we have worked strenuously in the EU to oppose the use of BST."
Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, has published an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to push for talks on TTIP to be frozen immediately, in order to allow for a full public debate and Parliamentary scrutiny. Only a handful of MPs have signed it. Dr Scott Cato said:
"The lack of support for Caroline Lucas’ Early Day Motion from all sides of the House demonstrates the important work Greens in Parliament and in Europe are doing in challenging corporate power and exposing shady deals being done behind closed doors."
European Commission perspective and background information on TTIP: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/
European Bans on Neonicotinoid Pesticides
Caroline Lucas Early Day motion: Transatlantic Trade And Investment Partnership: http://www.edms.org.uk/2013-14/793.htm