WILL TRANSATLANTIC TRADE AGREEMENT HARM YOUR HEALTH?

Will Food, Drugs, Cosmetics, Pesticides Escape Regulation?

FDA microbiologist

FDA microbiologist working in a biosafety laboratory Photo credit: US Food and Drug Administration / Wikimedia
In 1960, one courageous Food and Drug Administration official refused to approve a drug that had already been used widely abroad. Frances Kelsey insisted she needed more information before she could be satisfied it was safe. The drug maker accused her of being a petty bureaucrat. But Kelsey was right to be cautious. That drug was thalidomide and pregnant women who took the sedative gave birth to thousands of children with terrible birth defects in Europe, the UK, Canada, and the Middle East. Because of Kelsey’s vigilance, however, America was spared that tragedy.

If the US and EU agree on a new trade deal in the works — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — it would be very difficult for one watchdog on either side of the Atlantic to have the same life-saving impact.

Instead, business interests would wield far greater influence on the quality of our food, drugs, cosmetics, and pesticides, and the presence of toxic chemicals in our environment. It would be very difficult for any regulator to resist that corporate influence, or to buck the collective judgment of more compliant regulators in other countries.

How corporations will wield that influence is suggested in the fine print of trade proposals advanced by the US Trade Representative (USTR) and strongly endorsed by the international business community.

The proposed trade deal would affect 820 million consumers, and thousands of the corporations doing business in the 28 EU countries and the United States.

It should come as no surprise  that the agreement has been largely shaped by business interests. As The Washington Post reported in 2014, 85 percent of the individuals serving as trade advisors to the USTR represented either corporations or business trade groups.

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