UK Landworkers Alliance speaks out on US trade talks

The Landworkers Alliance of England and Wales has addressed a series of demands to Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint before he flies to Washington for the next round of talks in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) process on July 8. Recent members of La Via Campesina since the spring, the Landworkers Alliance rejects US demands for equivalence in agricultural produce, which effectively require the EU to relax food safety standards and open the way for imports of genetically modified agricultural products that are banned by EU standards.

Photo credit: Landworkers Alliance

Specifically, the alliance supports: “…the EU’s defence of the right to use the ‘precautionary principle’ when considering the import of agricultural produce and strongly oppose any compromise on this issue.”

The UK’s minister of state for trade and industry was reminded that EU import tariffs on items like cereals and beef are essential “…to protect our traditional European farm produce and cultures from further erosion through US imports.” These threaten to destabilise local and regional producers and the economies they serve.

The Landworkers Alliance also opposes “…in the strongest possible terms…” the subversion of European laws that would arise from allowing US corporations to challenge European regulations as a barrier to trade. Such a predatory back door to undermine environmental laws overlooks the need to protect habitats and the populations that depend on them.

As members of La Via Campesina, the alliance is also aware of the threat to international solidarity with local food producers in the US and the right to food sovereignty around the world. Trade is a poor substitute for governance: “We believe this process is wholly undemocratic and undermines the integrity of those governments who seek to make an example of their democracy.”

Until governments around the world recognise that small farmers have a role to play in feeding the part of the world closest to home, “… the syntax of these trade and investment agreements is where we must draw our battle lines.”

Peter Crosskey
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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.