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Food and Water Watch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 16, 2006
6:30 AM

CONTACT:  Food and Water Watch
202.797.6550

 
NO to a US-EU Free Trade Area
It would jeopardize food sovereignty in the US and the EU and would reinforce the grasp of a few giant agribusiness companies on our agriculture and food
 

WASHINGTON - May 16 - At the end of May, the European Parliament will vote on a report presented by the Socialist MEP Erika Mann (Germany) - Report on EU-US Transatlantic economic relations - which calls for "a transatlantic barrier-free market by 2015." The Committee on International Trade at the EP has already approved this report with a strong majority, with the support of the Socialist MEPs of the Committee.

The report recommends that by the June 2006 summit, the EU and the US agree to update the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) of 1995 and the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) of 1998 and design a new Transatlantic Partnership Agreement that covers both and leads to the achievement of a barrier-free transatlantic market by 2015.

While in 1994, the US and the EU succeeded in imposing the World Trade Organization which jeopardizes the food sovereignty of all countries by hampering their food policy, the current Doha Round of the WTO negotiations are uncertain to achieve any result. The US and the EU are using bilateral free trade agreements to achieve their goals. Such an agreement would not only deal with tariff barriers, but also with non-tariff barriers. The report denounces regulatory barriers that have become one of the most significant obstacles to trade and investment between the EU and the US and warns, in particular, against the proliferation of additional regulations at the state level, the non-use of relevant international standards as the basis for technical regulations, and the excessively burdensome labelling requirements.

This agreement puts into question the existing EU ban of bovine and milk hormones and whether European people would have no choice but to accept unlabeled genetically-modified food. The right of consumers to choose their food and the way it is produced would be broken by this bi-lateral agreement.

A free trade area would strengthen the penetration into Europe of the US agro-industrial model, particularly for animal production: for example the US company Smithfield, one of the companies responsible for the disappearance of family pig production in the US, which already succeeded in taking root in Central Europe, could develop more easily. Europe refuses the US food and agriculture model, which already pervades the continent too much, with large and destructive consequences for the environment, health and sustainable family farming.

Therefore, we call on US and EU authorities to change their agricultural and food policies: not only in order to provide a more suitable response to the increasing public demand for quality and locally/regionally produced food, but also to foster a sustainable and job-creating agriculture. Food sovereignty - the right of peoples and their nations to decide on what they eat and on how their food is produced, while avoiding dumping practices that negatively affect countries - ought to become the core principle of the new agricultural policies on both sides of the Atlantic.

We call on the members of the European Parliament to clearly reject the proposals of this report and to express their disapproval of a barrier-free US-EU market.

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