TPP signs away higher standards in favor of ‘free trade’

PUTNEY — President Obama is on the fast track toward signing on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This trade agreement allows corporations to sue member countries whose laws have caused them to lose expected profits on their investments. A corporate tribunal will judge these cases in the 12 TPP countries, which will range from Vietnam to the U.S.

The more I learn about the TPP, the more I hope that President Obama will get off the fast track to signing it and rethink its ramifications.

The U.S. law mandates that meat products should be labeled with their country of origin (Country of Origin Labelling, or COOL) so that consumers can choose to purchase products from U.S. farmers or to try food from international sources. The COOL statutes are very unpopular with corporations, especially those U.S. companies that had off-shored their meatpacking operations to countries with lower wages and minimal safety standards. The World Trade Organization ruled against COOL. (Editor's note: For the WTO's summary of the issue, visit bit.ly/cool_history.)

Commentator Jim Hightower says that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on steroids. It would create an unprecedented level of corporate rule over the economies, governments, and people of the Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the U.S.

Our nation's financial regulations would have to be harmonized to comply with TPP's extreme deregulation. Our country would have to weaken food-safety standards, including pesticide levels, toxic additives, GMOs, etc. that are stricter than international standards, as most of ours are. The U.S. won't be able to change a comma in TPP's thousand pages of rules unless every member country agrees.

Many Democrats in Congress are already ready to vote “no” to TPP's corporate usurpation of our people's sovereign rights and with a clique of GOP members already loathe to give Obama any unilateral executive powers, it's quite possible for our voices to make a difference on the fast-track vote.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates