How will Australia’s regulation of our food be affected by the TPP?
Australia has many rules to make sure that plant and animal products are safe for Australian’s and our environment — rules about how much pesticide residue can be present on our food, how food products are preserved and transported, and about testing to make sure imported products meet our standards. These rules (called “Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures” and “Technical Barriers to Trade”) are especially important to Australia because we need to protect our unique eco-system and our extensive agricultural and horticultural industries.
There are already international rules around how countries set their own measures. The US and its farmers lobby is pushing for all TPP countries to adopt a more coordinated approach. Under the TPP we risk losing the right to decide for ourself how we protect our people and the environment, instead having to follow a set of rules secretly negotiated overseas.
Worse, if we brought in new rules to restrict dangerous additives or toxic residues, investors from those countries could sue the Australian government for compensation in a private international tribunal. This happened in Canada in 2012 when the giant US chemical company Dow AgroSciences sued Quebec for banning the use of a dangerous pesticide, using an agreement called NAFTA that does not go nearly as far as proposals for the TPP. Just the threat of a long and expensive court case with a rich multinational company can be enough to get governments to back down on environmental protection measures. This isn’t right — the environment should come before corporate profits.
Does the TPP sound like something Australia should be a part of?
Tell the government what you think by sending them an open letter.