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TTIP: Molly Scott Cato’s reference, a paper by Julian Rose and an article by James Bruges

The FT reports that the EU has been hit by a stinging public backlash against its landmark trade deal with the US, making it increasingly unlikely that the accord will be concluded this year.

Brussels last year launched a public consultation to gauge popular sentiment about the most contentious part of the deal: clauses mapping out the rights of foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals, bypassing national courts.

The European Commission received almost 150,000 responses to its survey – more than 100 times more than any previous consultation on trade – and admitted on Tuesday that the majority of respondents expressed fears that the deal’s investment clauses would undermine national sovereignty.

“The consultation clearly shows that there is huge scepticism against the [investment] instrument,” said Cecilia Malmström, the EU trade commissioner.

MEP Molly added her thoughts to this debate  – including one concern:

molly scott cato 4“The Cornish pasty is one of many iconic British food products that currently enjoy special regional protection, but could be threatened by a flood of American imitations under TTIP.

However, we should be far more worried about what might lurk inside our pasty if TTIP is agreed. Beef from intensively reared livestock, treated with growth hormones and genetically modified potatoes could find their way under the crust, not to mention the lower animal welfare and environmental standards so prevalent in the US.” More on this story

Julian’s four page paper may be read here: http://neweranetwork.info/reports/closing-the-gate-on-gmo-and-the-criminal-transatlantic-trade-agreement/.

jrose-gm-free2It ends: All groups and organizations that care about retaining a largely GMO Free Europe and the consumption of genuine, healthy food – in tandem with the ecological farming methods that produce it – had better jump to the task of stopping TTIP, and its related trading blocks, from destroying the last line of defence against a complete corporate take-over of the food chain.

Join the resistance! Check the internet and join one of the groups in your area that are committed to blocking TTIP and CETA.

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james bruges2James – in an article originally published in the Friend, asks, “Why bother about TTIP?”

It would give corporations an exclusive form of justice, enabling them to sue governments should their profits be threatened.

It could:

  • reduce social, environment and food-safety regulation;
  • open up public services such as the NHS for privatisation;
  • prevent government from returning them to the public sector;
  • eliminate preferential treatment for local suppliers;
  • weaken workers’ rights;
  • and curtail the regulation of banks.

The Quaker Council for European Affairs has strongly condemned the TTIP.

So what is it?

The European Commission says: “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. It aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.

“On top of cutting tariffs across all sectors, the EU and the US want to tackle barriers behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. These often cost unnecessary time and money for companies who want to sell their products on both markets. For example, when a car is approved as safe in the EU, it has to undergo a new approval procedure in the US even though the safety standards are similar. The TTIP negotiations will also look at opening both markets for services, investment, and public procurement. They could also shape global rules on trade.”

The harmonisation of regulations causes concern. It seems likely, for example, that the more rigorous safety standards in Europe would be reduced in order to harmonise with lower standards in the USA. This could, among other things, open the floodgates to growth hormones in meat, chicken washed in chlorine and pesticides harmful to bees. TTIP deals with social and environmental regulations from the point of view of business alone without taking into account the affect on society or nature. Corporations could determine aspects of government policy.

“Extrajudicial tribunals comprised of three private attorneys” would judge disputes using the ISDS (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement) formula to impose fines, with no right of appeal. QCEA says it “completely rejects the inclusion of ISDS as part of the TTIP . . . We consider that the existing national judicial structures in both the US and the EU provide adequate, unbiased, and democratically sound legal systems.”

ISDS, obviously, appeals to corporations and their shareholders but it is less clear why any government should support it since it would reduce their freedom to legislate in the public’s interest.

ISDS has been used in other bilateral trade agreements. For example, Egypt has been sued for increasing the minimum wage; Slovakia for attempting to bring health insurance back into the public sector; Canada for refusing fracking rights in Quebec; Germany for deciding to phase out nuclear energy; Australia and Uruguay for introducing plain-pack cigarettes; El Salvador for protecting its water from contamination by gold mines; Vermont is for requiring GM foods to be labelled.

QCEA refers to the ‘chill effect’: “governments could potentially change policy to suit the preferences of big business rather than risk losing large sums of tax-payers’ money, even if the claim is potentially frivolous.” For example New Zealand has decided not to go ahead with plain-pack cigarettes due Australia’s experience. The threat of huge compensation claims could make it impossible for any future British government to stop the further privatisation of the NHS. And finance? “ISDS would empower the world’s largest banks to launch investor-state claims against US and EU financial regulations, which could chill regulators’ resolve to enact the bold financial stability measures needed to prevent another crisis.”

Our government claims that TTIP would enhance growth. QCEA says, “The stated purpose of the proposed Free Trade Agreement is to increase incomes for citizens in both the EU and the US. In this situation, the profits will most likely go to those who are already wealthy, the investors . . . giving large multinational corporations an advantage over Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) . . . The potential cost to governments is enormous.” During recent decades, growth has led to stagnant wages and spiraling inequality.

There is some light on the horizon. Germany and Austria have said that they will not support TTIP unless the ISDS mechanism is removed. Also, in response to widespread protests, the European Commissioner stated: “My Commission will not accept that the jurisdiction of courts in the EU Member States be limited by special regimes for investor-to-state disputes. The rule of law and the principle of equality before the law must also apply in this context”. However, many governments, headed by the UK, are challenging him.

Even without ISDS being included, the remaining provisions of this trade deal could greatly damage public services, the environment and health & safety. The full proposals were not published until the end of the year though implementation is scheduled for 2015. The situation is urgent.

If you also feel strongly please write to your MP and support at least one of the many NGOs that oppose the proposal.

google: ‘ttip wiki’ or ‘qcea’s background paper’ or ‘qcea’s model answers’.

News from Zerbanoo Gifford

zerbanoo Zerbanoo sends new year greetings and describes 2014 as a year of transitions and transformations at the Asha Centre. It has been a year of grounding and preparation for a whole new phase of work.

One of the major transitions was the official ending of the E.U.’S educational programme ‘Youth in Action’, which has been running at the Centre for the last six years, and the beginning of the European Union’s new seven-year programme called ‘Erasmus Plus’.

Much energy was spent in making sure ASHA remains a key player in this new programme; this meant understanding a whole new system of application, ascertaining and meeting new eligibility criteria and keeping informed of new priorities After a nail-biting period between April and August, they were finally granted approval on all projects. asha  young 2014

Another training programme is aimed at mainstreaming outdoor education in youth work and promotion of healthy lifestyles and life in harmony with the natural environment.

It was confirmed that ASHA would take the lead for a two-year project on Peace Education with four European gainers in Germany, Turkey, Latvia and the Netherlands. This will consolidate their efforts to create an ASHA ‘Peace-building’ model for young people to use in their communities across the world.

Alongside this major transition from old to new, they continued their volunteering programme, with young people from many different countries living and working together at the Centre for 10-11 months. This year they have welcomed the first ever Finnish and Palestinian volunteers, who will be with them till next August.

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The Chagos story continues to surprise supporters and create new law. (For August’s news see: http://neweranetwork.info/2014/08/28/news-from-zerbanoo-gifford-the-asha-centre-and-the-case-of-the-chagos-islanders/. Below America’s Deep Space Surveillance Facility, one of the military uses for which the islanders were evicted from their home.

chagos Deep Space Surveillance facility

Update: In December 2012, William Hague announced a new Feasibility Study which is now due to report in January 2015. The argument that resettlement is ”feasible” has clearly been won.

Chagossians are beginning to revive hopes of a return which were so cruelly dashed by the last government. But the injustice of the House of Lords’ decision in 2008 (upholding Jack Straw’s severance of their homeland tie) remains. So, to remedy the outrage of the three House of Lords judges basing their support of FCO on the very conclusions of the discredited feasibility study, we are now going back to the Supreme Court (who now replace the House of Lords) to argue for the cancelling of the 2008 decision and for reinstatement of the right of abode.

This unprecedented chapter in legal history has kept Zerbanoo’s husband Richard out of retirement since 2006 when the FCO began their nefarious series of appeals and suppressed evidence of their methods. Whilst Chagossians await their tryst with destiny, if only in partial measure, the case for a public inquiry into this oft-lamented chapter gains momentum.

May this work move forward significantly in 2015

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News from Tracy Worcester

Local residents and campaigners have written to Derbyshire County Council to urge councillors to reject the Foston ‘factory farm’ which would house 2,500 sows, producing 1,000 pigs a week. In September the Derby Telegraph reported that there were 38,000 objections. The planning decision, scheduled for October, still has not been taken.

tracy 1Tracy, who is director of the “Farms not Factories” campaign group, said she hoped the sheer number of objections would lead to the plans being thrown out:

“Opposition to the development by local residents is almost unanimous. They have not been persuaded that the development will not poison them with toxic emissions, pollute local waterways, increase the risk of flooding and disturb the amenity of the area with vastly-increased heavy vehicle traffic.

planning pig farm notice

Relevant postscript . . .

meat benign extravance coverIn 2010 George Monbiot agreed that if pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw and grass from fallows and rangelands – food for which humans don’t compete – meat becomes a very efficient means of food production.

But this week, though agreeing with Tracy and Simon about the evils of raising broiler chickens, stalled pigs and feedlot cattle: “sustaining unhealthy animals in crowded sheds” – and referring to a recent parliamentary report – he rescinds his acceptance of Simon Fairlie’s position in Meat: a benign extravagance, in his quest to recover hill and forest habitats for imported wild predator animals and birds.

In a second message Tracy refers to another new report, ‘The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’, which illustrates the economic and health impacts of antibiotic resistance. She adds that this report only focuses on public health, not their effects on intensively reared animals (Veterinary Times, 8 December 2014).

Fairlie has pointed out that around half the current global meat supply causes no loss to human nutrition and in fact delivers a net gain, as it comes from animals eating grass and crop residues that people can’t consume. It is  low energy, low waste, just, diverse and small-scale.

We add to his recommendation,Tracy’s reminder of the importance of conserving our native and rare breed pigs, keeping diversity within the pig species through sustainable mixed farming methods – and all native animal and bird breeds and seeds.

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News from FEASTA, co-founded by our colleague, the late Richard Douthwaite

feasta header

Extracts from an article by FEASTA’s director Mark Garavan (below)

Hovering above all of this economic and social disorder ecological crisis grows. The term Climate Change may suggest that only the weather is in question but climate is everything – food, water, temperature, nature itself. Half of all vertebrate life-forms have become extinct in the last forty years.

mark garavan feastaAs Feasta has predicted and argued since its foundation, the system itself is disintegrating. That this is happening is a tragedy. There is no comfort in having anticipated what is now occurring. We are now living through this time. It is no surprise that as the system decays we suffer stress and anxiety at a personal level.

It is in this context that Feasta needs to address where it stands today and what it can do at this time. We have produced detailed analyses and proposals over many years. All of these remain serviceable and valuable. But as a small organisation, desperately trying to argue for fundamental change at a systemic level, a high toll is exacted at the human level. Organisations often do not talk enough about this element. Burn-out, inter-personal frustrations, sheer exhaustion can dissipate even the most committed.

Often, advocates for change necessarily end up in the role of the critic, of the one in opposition, of the one who points out what is wrong, of the nay-sayer, of the doom-mongerer. We seem to come from a place of negation. We can appear experts in what is wrong, in what we oppose, in what we hate.

At this time of grave and genuine crisis, we desperately need to evoke what we love. We need to restore to our public discourse the capacity to dream of a world of inclusion, economic sufficiency, democratic participation and of psychological wholeness and well-being where care and compassion ground our fragile existence. The widespread alienation characteristic of our failing system may channel itself into anger, hatred and fear unless a project of hope and inspiration can be offered.

At a minimum all we in Feasta can do is not collude with the contemporary illusions.

We can speak with utter honesty about ourselves as struggling human beings, about our collapsing system, about our fears, distresses and vulnerabilities and about our hopes of a world that might be good enough for a holistically sustainable human life. Sustainability must include the social, political, economic and ecological and also the psychological. The new language and praxis of a sustainable politics must include care and well-being – focusing on the welfare of all of us.

Read the article in full here:  http://www.feasta.org/

But today the link is not working –  message:

feasta link

 

News from Geoff Tansey

Geoff writes: “I’m delighted to invite you to use this new, open education resource to transform our food systems: The Food Systems Academyhttp://www.foodsystemsacademy.org.uk/

geoff tansey 3He adds: “You might like to use the talks to provide guest speakers for educational courses or citizens groups to kick off a discussion.

“It would be very helpful if you could inform your networks about this. I have attached a flyer, which we would love people to print out and put up on notice boards.

Please also share this flyer with any colleagues for whom this new resource may be useful.

1food systems academy2food systems academy

If you are on Twitter it would be great if you could both follow the Food Systems Academy and tweet about it. Here are a few tweets you could use:

Introducing the new @FoodSystemsAcad, an open education resource to transform our #foodsystems. Curated @GeoffTansey http://ow.ly/CqVoD

The new @FoodSystemsAcad is a free library of talks giving a succinct overview of food in our world today http://ow.ly/CqVoD #foodsystem

How do we face the challenges of our #foodsystems? Explore the answers through @foodsystemsacad #video archive: http://ow.ly/CqVoD

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News from Sabine McNeill

Sabine, who supports victims of the financial, legal and judiciary system by grouping cases in order to press for legal redress, or even changes in the law, has written about her plan to spend the first week of December lobbying in Brussels. The following graphic shows half of her flyer:

sabine graphic

She will be there from Dec 1 to 5th, “SEVEN guys from the Commission want to meet me, while the Vice-President will meet the Chair of the Petitions Committee about our issue!… “

This follows her initial successes. Here is the official recording of her earlier presentation in Brussels and the subsequent comments by MEPs, members of the Petitions Committee, who made very relevant points which may be read by following the link. Sabine in action:

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Following that presentation and discussion until 16:43, a Dutch father of Russian Jewish origin, a Polish mother and the sister of this Lithuanian mother presented their petitions. The Polish mother said, “I am here on behalf of defenceless children and intimidated parents”.

Lydia Smith, in the International Business Times, reminds us that apart from Croatia, Britain is the only EU member state that practices forced adoption and for some, it is seen as a secretive system that allows social workers to separate children from loving families without proper justification and with little concern for their interests.

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The GenerationNext making waves, Molly Scott Cato and Karen Leach

molly scott cato 4Molly, now the Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, was given an opportunity to use experiences learned from last winter’s floods in the South West to give the European Parliament a Green perspective on tackling flood alleviation and flood prevention.

In her address she said that Greens call for three elements of a responsible flood policy:

  • making adequate investment in the infrastructure that prevents flooding, not allowing austerity cuts to increase the risk as our communities become inundated;
  • using a whole-catchment approach, considering how our farming practices have reduced the land’s ability to absorb rainfall for longer before it drains into the river, prioritising, in the CAP subsidiary scheme, the adoption of land management practices involving maintaining hedges and trees; using organic methods that reduce soil run-off, making explicit the link between flooding and climate change;
  • constantly remembering the flooding incidents across Europe which underline the urgent need to agree meaningful carbon-dioxide reductions at the COP 21 negotiations in Paris next year.

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Karen Leach was given the 2014 Attwood Award for working to strengthen the region’s economy.

katen award 2

City architect Joe Holyoak (last year’s awardee) presented the award. Other local recipients of the award include the Aston Reinvestment Trust, Kirsty Davies of Professional Polishing Services and the Green New Deal designers.

karen awardLocalise West Midlands’ chairman, Jon Morris, spoke about Karen’s work inspiring others to take action by her commitment, her logic, her actions, her integrity and her persistence.

For ten years Karen has been the organisation’s cornerstone. Jon thought that one of the achievements that most typifies Karen is the Alliance for a Better Economy. Read more here.There is a range of groups across the country working for a fairer and better local economy and which see localisation as at least an element in this.Though they all have different approaches and at times compete for resources and attention, Karen believed they could be more effective by working together to create and promote a common voice for a common aim. Read on here.

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