Could Trade Agreement Whittle Away Europe’s GMO Regulations?


cornRecently, officials from across the globe have held ‘secret talks’ over something called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIIP) or the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). Negotiators from the U.S. and Europe are sitting down to look at regulatory practices that could be hurting giant corporations and how to get around them. The talks are so secretive, that even U.S. lawmakers haven’t gained access to the proposed treaty, according to the Huffington Post.

Among other things, the group is discussing the European ban on U.S. genetically-modified imports. Obviously, U.S.-based corporate giants would like to see the ban loosened in their favor, so they can spread GM foods globally as they have in their own country.

As Michael Lipsky from the Huff Post writes, Europe has taken a decidedly more cautious approach to genetically modified foods. Most in the European Union have banned GMO crops altogether, and all of the countries require the labeling of GM ingredients, something we are still fighting for here in the U.S.

As the Washington Post reported,

“U.S. regulators tend to rely on short-term scientific studies about safety to give new technologies a green light. European regulators tend to be far more cautious, focusing more on what they might not know than on what they do know.”

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans want genetically modified foods labeled as such, the government has yet to require that of U.S. food companies. While many states, like Connecticut, have taken it amongst themselves to pass legislation requiring the same, the Supreme Court recently determined they didn’t have the authority to make food manufacturers comply. And as for the food manufacturers, they certainly aren’t going to go the extra mile in voluntarily labeling GM-foods – until we the people actually make it profitable enough for companies to do so.

There is a lot more to the TIIP/TAFTA than GMO regulations, but it is something that makes the negotiations important to watch. And because they aren’t asking for input from any people, rather those involved in trade including corporate giants, it’s likely the final agreement will not be “consumer-friendly.”

Companies like Nestle, Kraft, and seed traders like ADM and Cargill have their money on loosening EU restrictions. European interests, however, would be better served if their bans remained intact. Similarly, if the regulations are kept as-is or even tightened, the result could be greater fuel for similarly positive regulations here in the U.S.