The environmental NGO said a leaked letter from the EU’s former food safety chief addressed to Canada's agricultural and agri-food minister discussing a similar but smaller trade deal between the EU and Canada in 2012, was a sign of things to come for the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US since this former deal was being used as a blueprint.
In the letter, dated 23rd March 2014, commissioner Tonio Borg told Canadian minister Gerry Ritz: "The Commission will ensure that proposals for the authorisation of all genetically modified (GM) events, in particular GM canola, are processed as fast as possible within the procedures laid down in the EU approval legislation e.g. submission of decisions to member states once an EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] opinion is available."
Food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, Mute Schimpf, said: “Facing hostile public and political opposition to GM foods, the biotech industry is using their lobby power in this trojan horse trade deal with the US to open up the European market to foods contaminated with GMOs. This is the thin end of the wedge in the campaign by industry to force GM foods into Europe.”
Standards at risk?
Schimpf said there was a risk that existing EU measures would be "whittled away" and accused the EU negotiators of being more concerned with the benefit of the industry than its citizens.
Speaking as the EU trade commissioner at the time, Karel de Gucht said EU rules on GMOs would not change as a result of the deal, according to a report from Reuters from a meeting in Athens in February. The EC did not respond to our request for clarification that this stance had not changed.
Finland's minister for Europe and trade, Alexander Stubb was quoted at the event in Greece as saying the deal had come up against people who were anti- European, American, free trade, globalisation and multinational corporations.
Meanwhile, in a recent exchange with European consumer group BEUC and Friends of the Earth, De Gucht said he welcomed public debate around the negotiations, but warned that these must “be based on facts, not fear or hyperbole”.
If the negotiations started in July last year are successful, the TTIP deal is set to be the biggest ever bilateral trade deal of its kind. According to forecasts, which Friends of the Earth and BEUC questioned, EU gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by €68-119bn for the EU and €50-95bn for the US as a result of the partnership.