The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Organic Consumers Association,
Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090; or Zack Kaldveer,, 510-938-2664

Consumer Alert: Secret Trade Agreements Threaten Food Safety, Subert Democracy


The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today called on President Obama and Interim U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro to grant the public and Congress access to the negotiating process and draft texts, currently being kept secret, for two major global free trade agreements. The OCA also called on President Obama to end the Fast Track option for both trade agreements, and allow Congress the ability to debate and amend the agreements before voting on them.

The OCA has launched a single petition to the Obama Administration addressing consumer concerns around both agreements, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"These two trade agreements, enormous in their scope and reach, pose serious threats to consumer health and food safety, in the U.S. and in other countries," said Ronnie Cummins, OCA National Director. "It is inconceivable that they are being negotiated in secret, no access to, or input from, the consumers, farmers and governments that will be most affected by their policies."

Cummins added: "Even worse, if the agreements are Fast Tracked, Congress will be forced to vote on them, after they have already been signed, without debate. This is a complete subversion of the democratic process, a Nixon-era tactic designed to grease the wheels of commerce for huge multinational corporations that have little or no regard for public health and safety."

While the public and the U.S. Congress have been shut out of the negotiations, more than 600 corporations and industry trade groups have been given access to the otherwise secret proposals and draft texts.

The TTIP and the TPP are, individually and combined, two of the largest free trade agreements in world history. They both would force the U.S. and other participating countries to "harmonize" food safety standards. That means all countries that sign on to the agreement would be required to abide by the lowest common denominator standards of all participating governments.

According to leaked texts, both agreements contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations "special rights" that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens. Experts who have reviewed the leaked texts say that TPP negotiators propose allowing transnational corporations to challenge countries' laws, regulations and court decisions, including environmental and food safety laws. Corporations will be allowed to resolve trade disputes in special international tribunals. In other words, they get to do an end run around the countries' domestic judicial systems, effectively wiping out hundreds, if not more, domestic and international food sovereignty laws.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.