TTIP: Let them eat cake!
In this guest blog Adrian Bebb takes apart the European Commission’s new TTIP PR offensive, one currant at a time.
Adrian Bebb is senior food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.
Last weekend over 700 actions took place across Britain, Europe and worldwide, to protest against the planned free trade agreement between the EU and US (called TTIP), and other unfair trade deals. The European Commission - charged by our national governments to negotiate a deal with the US – used the opportunity to apparently unveil their latest PR strategy.
"#TTIP would help European cake-makers sell more of their delicious cakes", said one tweet, explaining that we have different cream-making machines than in the US.
In another they reassured us that our food standards will be uphold, thereby “cutting costs for oyster farmers – without cutting corners".
Yes, you read that right. As the arguments for TTIP have been steadily and robustly dismantled, the EU Commission’s public relations agency appears to be sinking to desperate levels to present a sweet, spongy image. If the Commission is to be believed, this TTIP trade deal - which campaigners have branded as threat to democracy itself - is just an innocuous endeavour designed to sell our American cousins more fresh French oysters, Black Forest gateau and Victoria sponge.
Have we, and the tens of thousands on the streets last weekend, been caught in a terrible cake-based misunderstanding?
More evidence has emerged this week proving that there is a real danger from TTIP to sustainable and local food and farmers in Europe. Leaked notes from a German government official show that the European Commission is willing to sacrifice our food and farming standards in exchange for the opening up of American public procurement markets to European companies:
The European Commission (KOM) has made it very clear to the USA that a high US ambition level in the agricultural sector would require high ambition from the US on public procurement
The Commission’s repeated assurances that it will stand up and protect us from hormone treated beef, meat rinsed in chemical or GM foods is crumbling away beneath it.
Let’s get a reality check. The way we produce food and farm land is in a mess. Our landscapes of industrial agriculture – increasingly dependent on fossil fuels and raw materials from developing countries – are wiping out what’s left of our nature and soil, not to mention the small scale farmers and labourers who make up our rural communities. Over 800 million people go to bed hungry every day whilst nearly 2 billion are overweight. The food system is not working. Throw in the effects of climate chaos on our ability to grow food, and it is clear that we need urgent change if we are going to nourish a hungry planet now and in coming generations.
By locking in industrial farming systems, impeding our ability to better regulate food production, and using our agriculture as a bargaining chip, TTIP is standing in the way of a much needed transformation of how we farm and produce food. I suspect that the PR wonks in the Commission know that too.
When such ridiculous examples are the best arguments the EU has for promoting such a crass and unpopular trade deal, it tells me one thing: we are winning.
Let the protests continue – cake or no cake!
Follow Adrian on Twitter - @AdrianBebb
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