Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Urgent Action Required By All Food Lovers

Have you heard of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)? I know I hadn't until a couple of days ago, when I found out about it via the Slow Food Movement. It's MAJOR, and it matters to you and me right now. 

It is a proposal which seeks to standardise systems and standards of food production between the EU and US. 

On the surface it sounds a little dull. But look a little closer, and you'll see why it matters to us all. I am deeply uneasy about the proposals and their implications.

The TTIP has massive, potentially cataclysmic repercussions for food producers and consumers not only in Ireland but throughout Europe. 

Here are some of the impacts it will have:
  • Currently chemicals and pesticides in the EU must be proven safe for animals and humans prior to use. In the USA the opposite is the case, and many cancer-causing and hormone- disrupting chemicals are used there, which are banned in Europe. We would no longer be able to ban these chemicals.
  • Higher European safety measures throughout the chain of food production, including meat production, would be down-graded to US levels which are less stringent.
  • The US factory food system produces food at a lower cost, with more chemical inputs and higher capital costs of production than in Europe. 
  • In the US, growth-hormone-injected beef is cheaper to produce - but is lower quality with associated human and animal health implications. Current restrictions on the sale of unlabelled hormone-injected beef and GMO products would be lifted. Consumers will no longer know exactly what they are buying... or eating.
  • And perhaps most worrying is a new legal system will be established for foreign investors, so that they can bypass the Irish, European and American judicial systems if they feel their current - or future - profits are threatened by "unnecessarily restrictive barriers to trade". This would include everything from what constitutes organic food standards, to correct food allergy labelling.
All these changes put profit before food quality. And the interests of mass-production and corporations above those of the people eating it. It will see food information for consumers weakened, and smaller, local producers further marginalised. According to Slow Food: "the controversial trade deal could give unprecedented power to international corporations and thus threatens to overrule democracy and the rule of law, as well as environmental and consumer protection."

Did you know that this was proposed? I certainly didn't. If this worries you too, do take time to raise your voice against it. Take a moment to sign the online petitions to stop TTIP. This one has already cleared the necessary million signatures to enable it to be formally presented for consideration by the EU but a million or two more signatures couldn’t hurt, so that our legislators know just how important an issue this is!

There is a global day of action this Saturday, 18th April, with workshops, protests and networking events.


On Twitter: @TTIPInfoNetwork     

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  1. This is quite awful. Just as food ingredient and allergy labeling was coming into fruition, both in shop bought products and on restaurant menus, we get this TTIP.

    The last point about food allergy labelling in your blog Darina shows just how crazy and corrupt the system is and how much worse it could get if this TTIP gets the go ahead.

    As a Coeliac, not by choice but due to a real medical condition, I am truly worried about this matter.
    In a country (Ireland) where hospital patients get put on long waiting lists, where hospitals are lacking funds, where doctors and nurses are getting over worked, this TTIP if its get the go ahead will only add to the number of people needing to go to hospital, whether your'e a Coeliac or not.

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  4. Hello,

    I'm quite curios if this TTIP went through. Would be interesting to learn of updates on this, if any.



  5. Darina and friends,

    First off, Mrs. Allen, I am a huge fan. I hope eventually to be able to make a trip to Ireland and to go to Ballymaloe for some course. I can honestly say, and I hope you see this as a compliment, that my copy of your 'Forgotten Skills' is perhaps the most beat up cookbook one have ever seen. It has its own special place on the counter (not on the shelf), mainly because it is often wet, well stained, and has been on fire once (long story). I'd love for you to sign it someday. Reading through that and working through some of the recipes has totally changed the way I cook. Sourcing ingredients (I am in the states, but you'd be surprised where I am, Eastern Pennsylvania, good PA dutch tradition, how much good farm food I can find) has changed the way I buy food, and look for it. I am a huge fan, you have a convert to slow food, and I even have my wife on board in an urban apartment on such things as using off cuts of meat, and saving chicken carcasses in the freezer for stock.

    That being said, I think you are incorrect on your understanding of the TTIP, or at least on the consequences for food growers and distributors.

    One of the ideas of the TTIP is to open up trade for companies that meet our countries standards, but have not been allowed to sell in the US as it doesn't have FDA or USAG approval, for bureaucratic reasons. It, as far as I know, doesn't mean you need to adopt any standard in the UK or Ireland, for domestic production, just what is going to be exported.

    I know you have little respect for the FDA, we don't either. But agreeing to this, doesn't mean you have to lower standards, just that if imports meet the standards, they can be more easily approved.

    Now I guess, it might make sense for an Irish or English house to make lesser quality product for the American market, because we are less strict than the UK, (heaven knows you have done it before in the colonies) and export their worst. I don't think that is what you are concerned about.

    What I like about this is if there is an agreed upon set of standards, it opens up small businesses in the UK to sell directly to me. This would be great as far as I'm concerned. You have several recipes on mutton, short of Vermont there is not a sheep older than a lamb, or not devoted to aggressive farming wool in this land. I would love to stew a mutton shank.

    TTIP is an effort to just make reasonable the standards for import. It does not change anything in UK if the standards are higher. Now I won't say that our lobbyists might not put in stuff that might prejudice UK imports, they are good at that, but it will lead to more imports from the UK, I would ask you kindly to reconsider your evaluation of the bill on that basis.

    And I could be wrong, if I am I apologize. I might have a rebuttal, I do have friends that are working on this bill (collegiates of mine who went into politics, not into teaching as I did) who may form a rebuttal.

    Best wishes,


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