From www.theecologist.org | July 7, 2015
The EU Parliament is voting tomorrow on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the USA and the EU. But do MEPs realise that the agreement could force European markets open to ‘new biotech’ foods and crops using advanced GM technologies that do not meet current definitions of ‘GMO’ within the EU?
The secretive discussions about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement between European Union and the United States under negotiation since July 2013, have led to many concerns being raised regarding food and environmental safety standards.
One of the most contentious issues is whether TTIP will weaken Europe’s rules over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a long-time target for US exporters who claim these rules hamper their profits.
Meanwhile, the biotech industry is pushing for the products of the ‘next generation’ biotech crops to escape the EU’s legislation on GMOs and therefore to go unregulated. Is there a link between this new push, and TTIP? Emails obtained via a Freedom of Information request show this might indeed be the case.
Responding to public concerns, the European Commission has fervently denied any claims that EU food safety standards, or other standards for that matter, would be lowered as a result of TTIP.
In early 2013, for example, the New York Times reported former European Commission President Barroso as stating, “restrictions in Europe on genetically modified crops would not be up for discussion” in the negotiations.
The TTIP Q&A website set up by the European Commission, in reply to the question “Will TTIP force the EU to change its laws on genetically modified organisms?” says: “No. The EU basic law on GMOs is not up for negotiation. It will not change as a result of TTIP.” The @EU_TTIP_team on Twitter also vigorously echoes this assertion.
Yet serious doubts have been raised about these statements. For one, a trade agreement similar to TTIP, the Canada-EU free trade agreement (CETA), explicitly mentions lifting“trade barriers” for biotech crops. And where CETA goes, TTIP is very likely to follow. Indeed, it would be surprising if this were not the case, given that the EU’s GMO rules are a burning issue for the US (see below, GM rules as ‘barriers to trade’).
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