Brussels 15 June 2016
Since the early days of the WTO, agriculture has been one of the hottest potatoes in trade talks. Agribusiness and other corporate lobby groups use trade agreements to increase their market access and profits. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as well as its “sister” CETA (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) are an assault on sustainable farming on both sides of the Atlantic. TTIP and CETA will affect food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection, lead to further intensification and corporate concentration of agriculture and threaten peasants’ survival as well as citizens’ health.
At today’s breakfast event in Brussels “TTIP – trading away our food and farmers?” Hanny van Geel, member of the Coordinating Committee of European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC*), underlined the negative effects of existing trade agreements on peasant farmers and a sustainable food system. NAFTA the North American Free Trade Agreement), for example led to rising exports and falling product prices. 40% of Canadian producers as well as millions of Mexican peasant farmers had to close down their farms. The latter ended up as seasonal and migrant workers in the US. Hanny van Geel said: “Food and agriculture are too important to leave them to business. Food is no commodity – it’s a human right. We need to put people’s rights in the center of our politics. Instead of promoting the neoliberal agribusiness model and supporting large multinational corporations, we need food sovereignty and a sustainable food and agriculture system based on agroecology.”
ECVC emphasizes that European farmers won’t accept betrayal for theoretical opportunities to increase exports to the US or Canada. Instead, as the report from Friends of the Earth Europe “Trading away EU farmers” underlines, TTIP will massively increase imports from the US – which are produced to lower standards and therefore have lower production costs – while having far fewer benefits for EU producers. Studies foresee a decline of up to 0.8% for EU agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product, while US agriculture’s contribution to US GDP will increase by 1.9%. Increased competition could mean the final knock-out blow for European small scale and family farming. “If you kill small farmers, you also kill the environment”, Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, warns.
European citizens have to be told the truth about how TTIP and CETA would affect food production and farming. Hanny van Geel: “Europeans do not want to depend on industrialized food coming from factories instead of family farms. Therefore, we have to stop negotiating agriculture in so called free trade agreements and work together to realize food sovereignty!”
Hanny van Geel, Member of Coordinating Committee of ECVC –email@example.com; Mob:+31 61 390 3434 (NL-EN)
Irmi Salzer, OBV-ECVC, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mob : +4369911827634 (DE-EN)
Andoni Garcia, COAG-ECVC, email@example.com; Mob: +34636451569 (ES)
Claude Girod, Confédération Paysanne -ECVC, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mob: +33385747189 (FR-EN)
European Coordination Via Campesina
Rue de la Sablonnière 18, 1000 Brussels (BE)
T: +32 (0)2 21 73 112
*The European Coordination Via Campesina is a European organisation that currently comprises 28 national or regional farmers’, agricultural workers’ and rural organizations based in 18 European countries. Its principal objective is the promotion of diverse and sustainable family and peasants farming based on the principles of the Food Sovereignty. The European Coordination Via Campesina is recognized by the European Institutions and International Organisations as a stakeholder. It takes part in advisory groups of the European Commission, is invited by the European Parliament to participate in public hearings, and it is a member of the Civil Society Mechanism in the Committee on World Food Security of the United Nations