Saturday 18th April was the Global Day of Action for sharing information, raising public awareness and staging demonstrations against TTIP. Seven events were organized in Ireland and over 700 took place around the world, involving a diverse range of civic agencies, social and environmental NGOs and many other interested parties.
In Ireland this included chefs, led by the non-profit chefs’ organization Euro-Toques Ireland. In the weeks leading up to it big names including Jamie Oliver and Darina Allen spoke out from the chefs’ corner, voicing their concerns for the future of food and agriculture in the European Union should the TTIP treaty be ratified.
“The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement poses a serious threat to the well-regulated Irish and European food industry,” said Darina Allen in a statement from Slow Food Ireland last week. “Who will benefit from this agreement? It will certainly not be consumers, who will see food information further weakened over longer food supply chains, nor will it be the large majority of small-scale producers, serving local markets, who make up the societal and economic fabric of quality food production, the guardians of the environment and food traditions.”
In defense of these producers, upon whose produce our top restaurants and chefs depend, Michelin starred chefs Kevin Thornton and Ross Lewis, award-winning chefs Sunil Ghai and Kwanghi Chan, and a host of other angry cooks joined up with Young Friends of the Earth (FoE) to take their stand against TTIP.
The chefs and Young FoE staged an on street ‘pop-up’ restaurant, serving ‘Table d’TTIP,’ a prix fixé menu featuring delicacies such as “Factory Farmed Feedlot Beef Two Ways: Aged with E.Coli and Cleansed with Ammonia,” and “Growth Hormone-Infused Ham Hock with fried GMOkra.” The price of the TTIP feast was listed as: “Your health, your farms, your environment, your democratic rights.”
The on-street demonstration and photo shoot took place simultaneously with a series of information sharing workshops at UNITE offices on Dublin’s Abbey Street, organized by the TTIP Information Network. Euro-Toques Ireland and (Arc2020 platform supporters Ed) An Taisce presented information about the potential impact of TTIP on food, agriculture, climate and the environment. Meanwhile, the TEEU (Technical Engineering and Electrical Union) Peoples’ Movement, UNITE, INTO, and Community Workers’ Co-Op participated in a seminar on public education, public water and community development. Finally, Éilis Ryan, Co-ordinator of the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI), chaired a session on workers’ rights, democracy and rule of law, with contributions from Action From Ireland, ATTAC-Ireland and ‘We’re Not Leaving.’ A round-up session was then chaired by head of Comhlámh, Mark Cumming – with attendance from a broad range of organisations from SWAN Ireland to People Before Profit.
The workshops provided a productive forum for information sharing from different perspectives, concluding with useful follow up actions. Chief among these are mass correspondence to MEPs on #TTIPTuesday (Tuesday21st April) and encouraging the lobby to have ISDS dropped from TTIP to also promote the inclusion of ‘Access to Justice’ as a mechanism for empowering European citizens.
Possibly the most important follow-up action from the day is to find ways to expand the TTIP Information Network and raise public awareness in the Ireland – especially rural Ireland – which is currently at an astoundingly low level. Rural communities dependent on small farms and agri-food businesses which will be hit hardest by a trans Atlantic free trade agreement will be the target of efforts to disemminate information and ecourage urgent lobbying of party policy makers and MEPs.
Caroline Byrne, Secretary-General, Euro-Toques Ireland , said: “Our objection to this treaty is in relation to the control it takes away from the sovereign European States and the standards to which we have produced food for generations. We do not believe that this treaty will benefit all stakeholders in our markets. Our agriculture is small scale and relatively extensive by comparison with US, particularly in Ireland. Our standards in terms of quality, health, environment, employment, rural socio-economic factors and local tradition are important components of our society and agri-food output, and this treaty will seek to change that for the sake of economic gain for relatively few stakeholders. This will have long-term detrimental impact on every aspect of our society in Europe, especially access to high quality, locally produced foods which are vital components of our unique cultures and rural communities. Euro-Toques Ireland chefs are custodians of Irish food heritage and our goal is to preserve and promote this invaluable asset for the generations of today and tomorrow.”
All Arc2020 news updates on TTIP