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Brussels, 15 June – Civil society raised serious concerns about the impacts of TTIP on access to good food and health, as well as the risk of deterioration of environmental, agricultural and animal welfare standards yesterday, at an event organised by Demeter (1) and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) (2), under the umbrella of ARC2020 (3), and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

“The EESC considers that full transparency and consultation with the EESC and civil society stakeholders is essential if any agreement is to command broad-based public support. The EESC considers that the major benefits from the TTIP will be in the regulatory field. Therefore, the strong commitments given by both parties that the TTIP is not about lowering existing standards are of critical importance,” said Dilyana Slavova, President of the Specialised Section of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment within EESC.

“Intensive food and farming systems based on producing cheap calories perform the worst in terms of imposing their true costs onto health, social and environmental systems. Increasing globalisation and current free trade models are one of the main drivers of nutritional transition towards diets characterised by increased volumes of unhealthy, cheap, energy-dense, but nutritionally-poor, ultra-processed foods (4). This transition is bad for both food and farming.” said Robert Pederson, ARC 2020.

“Trade should serve human society; therefore international trade agreements should be based on the principles of fairness and transparency and trade relations must take place within the limits that are set by democratic decisions. But for TTIP, we have legitimate concerns about risks for standard setting and maintenance in the fields of sustainable food, agriculture, health systems, safe labour and animal welfare,” said Andreas Biesantz, Head of the Brussels Office of Demeter International.

“The TTIP negotiations raise legitimate fears of pressure on health systems to increasingly commercialise their operations , potentially at the expense of quality and access for all. On top of that, health budgets and services will come under even more pressure if TTIP floods Europe with unhealthy processed foods and alcohol, exacerbating the epidemic of obesity and related illnesses. We need more transparency of the negotiating texts to be convinced that our health is being prioritised over the wish lists of health harmful lobbies,” concluded Nina Renshaw, Secretary General of EPHA.

The conference ‘Increased Trade for Better Living?’ provided a discussion platform for negotiators, decision-makers and stakeholders, to exchange views on civil society concerns about the possible implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on sustainable food and agriculture, public health and services, education and democracy. It discussed visions of fair and sound international trade, developed ideas for inter-state arrangements that would foster fair trade and debated whether TTIP and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) contain any approaches that could lead to healthier trade. The first day was followed by an interactive workshop with an exchange of views on civil society concerns with regard to possible TTIP implications on sustainable food and agriculture, public health and services as well as education and democracy. (5) The policy conference aimed to contribute to the ongoing discussions amongst civil society and politicians ahead of the 23 June European Trade policy day. (6) (7)

  • Notes to editors

(1) EPHA is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe.

(2) Demeter-International e. V. is a non-profit association for organic food and farming. Its member organisations work together in the spirit of an international confederation with democratic principles. In Brussels, we have an active role supporting social and environmental advocacy work from the perspective of food and agriculture. We are committed to support and promote biodynamic agriculture, sustainable farming and environmental protection and raise citizens’ awareness about those issues. Demeter International is a member of ARC2020.

(3) ARC2020 is a platform of 160+ organisations working together for good food, good farming and better rural policies in the EU.

(4) TTIP is negotiated in a context of the high and growing burden of chronic diet-related, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, certain cancers, as well as obesity. CVDs cause 52% of premature deaths in Europe at estimated costs to the EU economy of almost €200 billion/year. But it must be said that these are in large part preventable conditions, leading to premature deaths. Another health issue linked to agriculture and livestock is AMR – drug resistant infections – already case 25,000 deaths every year in the EU.

(5) To find out more about the workshop, see Event announcement TTIP – Increased Trade for Better Living?

(6) EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom is holding a European Trade Policy Day policy event on 23 June. The event will bring together a broad spectrum of high-level speakers. Stakeholders from civil society, the European Parliament, trade unions, business and academia will have the opportunity to put forward their views and ideas on European trade policy.

(7) The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) presented a study which assessed the health impact of the proposal. TTIP has the declared aim of seeking to increase trade and promote economic growth. Historically, economic growth has led to improved population health. Yet, this link is now weakening, and attention is being focused on assessing the effect of TTIPs on health and the ability of government to mitigate against negative impact. – Khan, U., Pallot, R., Taylor, D. and Kanavos, P. (2015) ‘The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: international trade law, health systems and public health’ London School of Economics and Political Science and Modus Europe report

Press contacts:

Demeter – Andreas Biesantz, +32 2646 2117

EPHA – Zoltan Massay-Kosubek, +32 2 233 3872