Yesterday, another important step was taken towards the implementation of CETA, as the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) declared itself to be in favor of the accord.
On February 14th, the European Parliament will vote on the agreement’s implementation. Yet already, before any final decision has been reached, we’re already feeling the effects of pressure from the EU’s trade partners. Our standards of protection against endocrine disruptors (EDCs) have been lowered: these chemicals are linked to cancer and birth defects and cost Europe’s health services billions of euros a year in additional expenses. If CETA is ratified, things will only get worse, as trade interests take priority over health and the environment.
International influence on European EDC policy
European legislation on pesticides (which include EDCs) is supposed to protect European citizens from their harmful effects. Yet there is a powerful lobby, led by American and Canadian diplomats, that seeks to change that. Since March 2015, Canada has argued against the EU approach to EDCs at every single meeting of the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee.
The latest proposal on EU pesticide legislation seeks to lowers the level of protection by setting much higher maximum residue limits for EDC-containing pesticides. This change would be welcomed by the EU’s trading partners in the United States and Canada, of course. But thankfully, the legal counsel for the European Parliament has confirmed that any such revision of EU pesticide legislation would be in breach of the European Commission’s mandate.
If CETA becomes reality:
CETA would increase Canada’s influence on the EU legislation process, including on pesticides. It would give businesses based in Canada (like Monsanto) the power to challenge legislation both at the European level, and in every Member State, posing great risk for health and environmental protection in Europe. Put simply, we could expect an increase in the power of multinational, industrialized agriculture and a further weakening of the already embattled small-scale farming.
Slow Food, along with hundreds of other organizations across Europe, calls for the complete rejection of CETA. We call on each and every one of our supporters in Europe to contact their MEP and urge them to vote against the proposal on February 14th and indeed, any potential future agreement that would jeopardize the health and environmental protection we currently enjoy.