Civil Society Letter to US Congress over concerns about TPP's impact on food security and sustainable development

More than 50 civil development, faith-based and sustainable agriculture organisations  have written a letter to Members of the US Congress urging them to reject the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The letter states that the “TPP would expand many of the worst features of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, more than two million Mexican farmers were driven from their lands after a dramatic increase in dumped corn imports from the United States. NAFTA has led to increasing corporate concentration in agricultural production, leaving farmers with fewer options of where to buy and sell goods and a decline in the number of family farmers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. The TPP would replicate those problems, opening fragile markets for basic grains and other foods even further.”

“The TPP also requires countries to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants 1991 (UPOV-91), an international treaty protecting plant breeders. UPOV-91 requires 20-25 years of intellectual property protection to be provided for all plant varieties. It stops farmers and breeders from saving and exchanging protected seeds, common practices of farmers in many countries around the world. Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico and New Zealand have not yet ratified UPOV-91, but will be required to do so under TPP—as will any country who may join the TPP in the future.

In general, the TPP would lock member countries into a path that has proven to be unsustainable and unsupportable. Rather than encouraging knowledge sharing and local control, the TPP would enshrine the UPOV-91 system.”

The letter also raises concerns over TPP’s investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows corporations to sue governments over measures that limit their expected profits adding that “Existing ISDS cases over mining and natural resource rules have already undermined small-scale farmers’ access to healthy soils and water”.