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The first round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) began last July behind closed doors with much criticism. Here was this private tribunal being negotiated in secret between the European Commission and the US government in the name of so-called ‘free trade’, and the people had no say. But that may be about to change.

EU officials have confirmed that an orchestrated campaign by NGOs and trade unions have put severe delays on the EU-US free trade agreement; they’ve been especially hostile regarding the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause.

Meanwhile the new Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström says she will be making the negotiations more transparent. For instance, she has agreed to declassify TTIP negotiating documents, publish more texts, and allow all MEPs to access TTIP texts.

Will this really impact the trickling in of information? That awaits to be seen. The next round is scheduled in February 2015 in Brussels. Until then we must continue to get educated, tell as many people as possible, and demand transparency. We can be the change we want to see.

The concern with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which actor/activist Russell Brand sarcastically refers to as the “best thing to happen to planet earth since Jesus,” is that it only has its best interests in mind. Negotiations could give corporations the ability to sue governments if and when they attempt to protect their citizens or our environment. Basically TTIP  focuses on market gains at the expense of the public.

The TTIP also threatens our food supply and environment, as well as public services, workers’ rights, and online privacy as well. This story in The Independent outlines six reasons why TTIP should scare you.

Luckily European nations, who have stricter regulations, have dug their heels over sectors like food and farming. For instance, France has underlined its opposition to opening European markets to genetically modified foods. And in Germany, local government has “become a major thorn in the side of the national government, declaring that they will only accept TTIP if it guarantees their full independence in providing public services and procuring goods and services,” according to a recent article in The Independent.  “This, of course, the national government won’t be able to accept, because it runs counter to the whole point of TTIP.”

Check out this TTIP infographic from Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity:

The Future of Food: Transatlantic Trade

While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would benefit companies like Monsanto and Cargill, monocultures and factory farms are not the future of food or the way to save our planet. We need to give communities power over production.

In 2013, the United Nation’s Trade and Environment Review (TER), issued a 320 page report, basically concluding that the world’s agricultural needs can be met with localized organic farms. Meaning we do not need giant monocultures and massive amounts of poisons that harm our environment and create mutant pests and weeds while decimating pollinators and harming human health.

Organic agriculture, which has gone from a fringe movement to a multi-billion industry, can produce high yields and withstand disaster and duress much better than chemical-reliant crops, according to reports coming out of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), which held its 18th annual world congress in Istanbul this past October. And a 30-year study from the Rodale Institute, showed that organic farm fields yielded 33 percent more in drought years compared with chemically managed ones.

“I try to raise awareness about the need to shift away from globalizing to localizing,” Helena Norberg-Hodge recently told actor/ activist Russell Brand on his Internet show The Trews (truth+news= trews) . Hodge is an analyst on the impact of the global economy on cultures in agriculture worldwide. “Localizing is a systemic alternative that has incredible power.”

In fact, small farms are known to be two to 10 times as productive as large industrial farms, and much more profitable, not just in the developing world, but also in the developed world, reports the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) .

For more information read my story on Truthout titled United Nations Calls for an End to Industrialized Farming.

Listen to the full episode TTIP – How We’re Lied To About Food: Russell Brand


Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

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