(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2014) In a letter Thursday, a broad array of major U.S. and European chemical safety, health, environmental, labor, consumer and other organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, expressed strong opposition to proposed rules for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that could chill or roll back robust chemical safety standards on both sides of the Atlantic.
The letter was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht, in advance of the sixth round of TTIP negotiations, which are to begin in Brussels next week.
â€śEU and U.S. trade policy should not be geared toward advancing the chemical industryâ€™s agenda at the expense of public health and the environment â€“ but that appears to be exactly what is currently underway with TTIP,â€ť the letter states. â€śThe presence of toxic chemicals in our food, our homes, our workplaces, and our bodies is a threat to present and future generations, with staggering cost for society and individuals.â€ť
At the upcoming TTIP negotiations, draft text will be presented for the first time for several of the proposed pactâ€™s chapters that could directly undermine strong chemical safety rules. The texts will be kept secret from the public during negotiations, but the rules that would be established would be binding on the United States and EU member nations, with trade sanctions or cash fines ordered against domestic policies that do not comply with TTIP rules.
The letter highlights specific TTIP proposals that the U.S. and EU governments and industry interests have put forward that could chill U.S. efforts to strengthen chemical regulations while weakening tighter EU chemical protections. This includes a U.S. proposal for regulatory coherence that could â€śthwart the timely promulgation of important regulationsâ€ť and an EU Regulatory Cooperation Council proposal that would require regulators to calculate â€śchemical regulationsâ€™ costs to transatlantic trade, not the benefits of such protective laws for society.â€ť
The letter also rejects a controversial proposal â€“ opposed by U.S. state legislators, some EU member states and a trans-partisan array of U.S. and EU civil society groups â€“ to include â€śinvestor-state dispute settlementâ€ť terms in the TTIP. Already inclusion of such terms in other pacts has empowered corporations to circumvent domestic courts and directly challenge controls for the use of hazardous substances, pollution cleanup requirements and other chemical protections before extrajudicial tribunals authorized to order unlimited taxpayer compensation for violations of broad foreign investor â€śrights.â€ť Such extraordinary provisions, according to the letter, â€śwould force the public and their representatives to decide between compensating corporate polluters for lost profits due to stronger laws, or continuing to bear the health, economic and social burdens of pollution.â€ť
The letter concludes by criticizing the negotiationsâ€™ lack of transparency: â€śIn a deal where fundamental changes to sub-national, national and regional policies and lawmaking processes are being proposed and negotiated, the non-disclosure of TTIP negotiating positions or texts is inexcusable and inconsistent with the principles of a modern democracy.â€ť
Beyond Pesticides continues to fight for strong, public protections against chemicals in our homes and environment and any form of legislation that would diminish the right of communities and individuals alike to establish protective laws, regulations, and standards.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides
Source: Press Release