The Farmers Cooperative which represents the majority of Japanese farmers want no part of the TPP.
Update: Donald Trump crushed any hopes of the TPP being a legitimate trade deal. Ironically, the day after Trump announced it dead in the water, Japan became a signatory. Huh?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws, patents, and rewrite international laws to enforce them. If not stopped, the TPP will eventually cover more than 40% of global trade. The TPP is the most aggressive trade plan in the history of the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the broad scope and far-reaching implications of the TPP, negotiations for the agreement have taken place in secret. Vandana Shiva, one of the world’s most respected authorities on agriculture, and biodiversity said the TPP is nothing more than an extension of the WTO, and deepens its implications in an even more perilous manner. Shiva stated that the impact of globalization, free trade and the deregulation of commerce in her native land resulted in 270,000 Indian farmers committing suicide. Shiva also said that each country that is currently in negotiations, or considering joining the TPP should understand that the only participants that will benefit from the TPP are U.S. corporations that have infiltrated and corrupted certain U.S. government branches, namely the FDA and the EPA, as well as other multinationals that are interested in privatizing, and exploiting national resources. As a result of the WTO every fourth Indian is now starving, and ever second child is wasted and stunted. The WTO has done nothing to benefit India, and the TPP will do nothing to benefit the people of Vietnam, Chile, and the other nations currently involved in secret negotiations. Shiva also stated that before the WTO, India went from being the top producers and exporters of oilseeds and pulses (lentils and beans), to the top importer of those products.
Who Would Benefit From The TPP?
Big pharm, Monsanto, Cargill, multinationals, World Banks, entertainment conglomerates, and lobbyists that corrupt congress and the senate of the U.S. legislative branch.
Criticism Of The TPP
The TPP is non-transparent. Like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the TPP is being negotiated rapidly with little transparency. During the TPP negotiation round in Chile in February 2011, negotiators received strong messages from prominent civil society groups demanding an end to the secrecy that has shielded TPP negotiations from the scrutiny of national lawmakers and the public. Letters addressed to government representatives in Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand and the U.S. emphasized that both the process and effect of the proposed TPP agreement is unconscionably undemocratic. Despite the broad scope and far-reaching implications of the TPP, negotiations for the agreement have taken place behind closed doors and outside of the checks and balances that operate at traditional multilateral treaty-making organizations. The TPP raises significant concerns about freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities. In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens. The U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) is pursuing a TPP agreement that will require signatory counties to adopt heightened copyright protection that advances the agenda of the U.S. entertainment and pharmaceutical industries agendas, but omits the flexibilities and exceptions that protect Internet users and technology innovators. The TPP will affect countries far beyond the eleven that are currently involved in negotiations. Like ACTA, the TPP agenda is to create new heightened global IP enforcement laws. Countries that are not parties to the negotiation will likely be asked to accede to the TPP as a condition of bilateral trade agreements with the U.S. and other TPP members.
What Does The TPP Affect?
Everything from foreign ownership of land, mining licenses, media laws, control of agriculture, trade tariffs, treaty settlements, control of financial speculation, the price of medicines, compulsory labeling of food, plain packaging of cigarettes, privatization contracts for water, power, prisons, schools and hospitals. The U.S. trade office publishes an annual hit list of ‘trade barriers’ in each country including:
- Restrictions on sale and manufacture of GMOs and labeling of GM foods.
- Strict quarantine and labeling rules.
- The importation of music, movies and computer programs.
- Intellectual property protection in the digital media and pharmaceuticals.
- Pharmaceutical schemes for buying drugs and subsidies.
- Dominance of Telecom over competitors and new entrants.
- Easing restrictions on foreign investments.
Regarding intellectual property the main problems are two-fold:
- Intellectual Property: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for end users freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process. This will hinder the public’s ability to innovate.
- Lack of Transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.
Why is the TPP being described as a trade agreement?
It’s clever branding. In reality it’s an agreement that guarantees rights to foreign corporations that operates from within any of the TPP countries like entertainment (Warner and Sony), pharmaceuticals (Merck and Pfizer), mining (RTZ and BP), tobacco (Philip Morris), retailers (Wal-Mart and Woolworths), finance sector (Merrill Lynch, Westpac, AIG, Macquarie, JP Morgan), agro-business (Cargill, Monsanto), private water operators (Bechtel, Veolia) and much more.
Special Rights: Foreign investors Can Sue Governments To Change Laws That Benefit the Multinationals
This works on several levels.
- Laws that allow foreign investment would be locked so they could only be weakened, unless the government reserves the right to strengthen them before it signs the agreement.
- It would guarantee foreign firms are consulted over proposed new laws and the government would have to show how it had considered their client’s views. Citizens would have no right to change laws that negatively impact the nation.
- If the government goes ahead with a new law that the foreign investors doesn’t like they could sue the government for billions of dollars for breaching their rights, thereby trumping domestic laws.
- If the matter did go to court, the case would be heard in a secret international court run by the United Nations or even worse, the World Bank, not a domestic court.
Examples of new laws considered for the TPP include a ban on plain packaging of cigarettes, tighter regulations onshore and offshore mining exploration, banning the sale of the kind of toxic financial products that fuelled the financial meltdown of 2008, restrictions on sale of strategic assets to foreign firms, and a tax on ‘hot’ money flowing into and out of the country. In New Zealand, the familiar and worn out pitch that the country would benefit where Fonterra’s milk powder would be introduced to the huge U.S. market. As U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz said, “Most of these ‘free trade’ agreements are made for the sole benefit of the U.S., which has the bulk of the negotiating power.” There is no real negotiation for the TPP nations, and “New Zealand would never gain anything that would benefit the nation.”
The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement
All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the U.S., this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked U.S. proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that go far beyond current U.S. copyright law. The eleven nations currently negotiating the TPP are the U.S., Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, patents and even geographical indications. Since the draft text of the agreement has never been officially released to the public, we know from leaked documents, such as the February 2011 draft U.S. TPP IP Rights Chapter, that the U.S. negotiators are pushing for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The leaked U.S. IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws. These include obligations for countries to:
- Place Greater Liability on Internet Intermediaries: The TPP would force the adoption of the U.S. (DMCA) Internet intermediaries copyright safe harbor regime in its entirety. For example, this would require Chile to rewrite its forward-looking 2010 copyright law that currently establishes a judicial notice-and-takedown regime, which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the DMCA.
- Regulate Temporary Copies: Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders’ authorization as copyright infringement. This was discussed but rejected at the intergovernmental diplomatic conference that created two key 1996 international copyright treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
- Expand Copyright Terms: Create copyright terms well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Here, the owner of a creative work would be the life of the creator, plus seventy years for works created by individuals, and following the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporate owned works (such as Mickey Mouse).
- Enact a “Three-Step Test” Language That Puts Restrictions on Fair Use: The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is putting fair use at risk with restrictive language in the TPP’s IP chapter. The U.S. and Australia are both proposing very restrictive text, and Peru is willing to accommodate the bad language.
- Escalate Protections for Digital Locks: It will also compel signatory nations to enact laws banning circumvention of digital locks (technological protection measures or TPMs) that mirror the DMCA and treat violation of the TPM provisions as a separate offense, even when no copyright infringement is involved. This would require countries like New Zealand to completely rewrite its innovative 2008 copyright law, as well as override Australia’s carefully-crafted 2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, videogames, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device, a thoughtful effort by Australian policy makers to avoid the pitfalls experienced with the U.S. digital locks provisions. In the U.S., business competitors have used the DMCA to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
- Ban Parallel Importation: Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners.
- Adopt Criminal Sanctions: Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation, based on the provisions of the 1997 U.S. No Electronic Theft Act.
In short, countries would have to abandon any efforts to learn from the mistakes of the U.S. and its experience with the DMCA over the last 12 years, and adopt many of the most controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law in their entirety. At the same time, the U.S. IP chapter does not export the limitations and exceptions in the U.S. copyright regime like fair use, which have enabled freedom of expression and technological innovation to flourish in the U.S. It includes only a placeholder for exceptions and limitations. This raises serious concerns about other countries’ sovereignty and the ability of national governments to set laws and policies to meet their domestic priorities.
According To The BBC
The TPP is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever attempted. Its supporters have billed it as a pathway to unlock future growth of the countries involved in the pact. The critics have been equally vociferous, not least because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the agreement. Despite the criticism, the countries involved have been pushing for a deal to be reached soon and they are confident that even more economies will want to join the pact in the coming years. The pact is aimed at deepening economic ties between these nations. The TPP is expected to substantially reduce tariffs, and even eliminate them completely in some cases, between member countries and help open up trade in goods and services. It is also expected to boost investment flows between the countries and further boost their economic growth. The member countries are also looking to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulatory issues. The eleven countries that are currently part of the negotiations have a combined population of more than 650 million.
A free trade agreement could turn this into a potential single market for many businesses. Criticism of the deal is on various fronts. Like many other free trade agreements, there are fears over the impact TPP may have on certain products and services in member countries. Some campaign groups have raised concerns about the impact such a wide-ranging agreement may have on intellectual property laws and patent enforcement. They fear the deal may extend the scope of patents in sectors such a medicine and prevent the distribution of generic drugs. Meanwhile Japan, which has expressed an interest to join the negotiations, has raised concerns about the agreement impacting its agriculture sector. But the biggest criticism has been of what the campaigners allege to be secretive negotiations. They say that the delegates have not been forthcoming about details of the issues that they have been discussing, and what the scope of agreement in those areas is likely to be, and how it will impact trade. Last year, a group of lawyers even sent a letter to Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, to express what they called “profound concern and disappointment at the lack of public participation, transparency and open government processes in the negotiation of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP.” However, those working on behalf of the TPP organizers say the reason why the negotiations have not been made public is because there is no formal agreement as of yet. They also state that free trade agreements attract a lot of criticism from campaign groups, and that in this case the delegates may be wanting to keep the discussions under wraps to avoid any pressure from such groups.
The stated goal of the TPP is to unite the Pacific Rim countries by “harmonizing” tariffs and trade rules between them, but in reality, the “intellectual property” chapter in a massive trade agreement that will force changes to copyright and patent rules in each of the signatory countries. Accepting these new rules will not just rewrite national laws, but will also restrict the possibility for countries to introduce more balanced copyright laws in the future. This strategy may end up harming other countries’ more proportionate laws such as Chile, where a judicial order is required for ISPs to be held liable for copyright infringement and take down content. Such systems better protect users and intermediaries from disproportionate or censorship-driven takedowns.
If the final TPP text forces countries to adopt a privatize notice and takedown regime, this could imply the end of the Chilean system. It would also undermine Canada’s notice-notice regime. The content industry can, has and will continue to pay and distort facts to affect changes in laws that protects their sole interests, and what they want more than anything is for us to remain passive as they tighten the screws. They did it with SOPA, ACTA, and now it’s the TPP. I The TPP is slated for conclusion this October, but it should be our main objective to get the worst of these copyright provisions removed from it. Demand an open transparent process that allows everyone to analyze, question, and probe any initiatives that will make new regulations to the Internet. The secrecy of this agreement is not acceptable.
TPP And The GMO Horror Show
The TPP would force Japan to accept an unlimited amount of GMO foods and seeds. Additionally, rules dictate that the Japanese government can not require GMO foods to be labeled, or disclose the origin of the foods to ensure that consumers will not be able to even guess whether the food they are about to feed their children are genetically modified or not. While politicians use tax dollars to pay extravagant subsidies that are designed to gain farmers support for TPP, it would be better for the Japanese people to focus on the quality and safety of the food that will enter the market. Currently, around two-thirds of all crops grown in the U.S. are genetically altered. More than sixty percent of the food consumed in Japan comes from the U.S., and China. Japan should expect that most of the food imported from the U.S. would be genetically modified. Japan’s acceptance into the TPP will result in the U.S. agricultural giants taking over Japan’s farmland, and forcing farmers to pay licensing fees for patented GMO seeds, courtesy of Monsanto, the same company that brought Agent Orange to S.E. Asia, and Okinawa, DDT’s to the world’s farmlands, lawsuits against farmers that didn’t want their crops contaminated by GMO cross-pollination in the first place, and the total destruction of the once booming agricultural industry of India. Monsanto, or other biotech companies fund nearly all GMO research. This means that truly independent data is not available. Independent scientists claim that people are being used as human guinea pigs. Professor Terje Traavik is in a rare and privileged position in the world of genetically modified research. As scientific director of Norway’s GenØk Centre for Biosafety, he presides over the only research institution in the field of gene ecology, which is completely independent of funding from biotech companies like Monsanto. Professor Traavik has been giving speeches all over the world and for many years stating that 95% of scientists working within genetically modified research areas (genetic engineering, molecular biology and genetics, synthetic biology) are directly, or indirectly, working for the biotech industry. Despite widespread reports of intimidation, threats and career destruction of scientists who produce negative results, Professor Traavik says, “There is no shortage of techniques, methods and technologies within life sciences, but there is a shortage of critical minds and original hypotheses,” he said. The most famous incident involving intimidation, and the destruction of an independent researchers career is the case of Dr. Arpad Pusztai, one of the world’s top researchers in his field of lectin proteins and a senior researcher at the prestigious Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ironically, Monsanto’s CEO, Hugh Grant is from Scotland as well. Hmmm…
When Dr. Pusztai fed genetically modified potatoes to rats, they developed pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and a damaged immune system. Dr. Pusztai stated during a televised interview, “If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it”, and that” “I find it’s very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.” Two days later, his 35-year career at the Institute was ended amid persistent phone calls to the director from Downing Street. Dr. Pusztai was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, but eventually, he was invited to speak before Parliament, his gag order lifted, and his research published in the prestigious Lancet. In Latin America, the research by the embryologist Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, at the University of Buenos Aires, had a similar occurrence. In 2010, he showed that Roundup, the Monsanto herbicide sold in conjunction with most genetically modified crops, caused defects in the brain, intestines, and hearts of amphibian fetuses. His research confirmed reports from peasants that they suffered adverse health consequences after using Roundup. Later, a violent gang prevented him from giving a speech on his findings.
In an interview with GM Watch, Professor Carrasco said, “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. In spite of the evidence, they still tried to run down thirty years of my reputation as a scientist. “They are hypocrites, lackeys of the big corporations, but they are afraid. They know they can’t cover up the sun with one hand. There is scientific proof and, above all, there are hundreds of affected towns, which are living proof of this public health emergency. I have confirmed that glyphosate is devastating for amphibian embryos, even at doses far below those used in agriculture. Roundup causes many, and varied types of malformations.” Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow was one of many scientists to have their supply of seeds terminated after she discovered problematic side effects in genetically modified sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding access to genetically modified seeds and genes. Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey suffered the same fate after they found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans. After publication, Hartz, the company that supplied the seeds told them they would no longer provide samples. And when Hungarian Professor Bela Darvas discovered that Monsanto’s GM corn hurt endangered species in his country, Monsanto shut off his supplies. Dr. Darvas later gave a speech on his preliminary findings and discovered that a false and incriminating report about his research was circulating. He traced it to a Monsanto public relations employee, who claimed it mysteriously appeared on her desk, so she faxed it out. A further problem in the industry is conflict of interest. Many individuals have switched between jobs with responsibility for regulating the biotech industry, and working for Monsanto.
The following are some examples: Dr. Michael A. Friedman, formerly the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy commissioner for operations, joined Monsanto in 1999 as a senior vice president. When Linda J. Fisher left her role as an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she became VP of Monsanto, from 1995 to 2000, she then returned to the EPA as deputy administrator the next year. William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative, each served on Monsanto’s board after leaving government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney in Monsanto’s corporate-law department in the 1970s. He wrote the Supreme Court opinion in a crucial G.M-seed patent-rights case in 2001 that benefited Monsanto and other seed companies.
What does all this mean? The U.S. agricultural industry is one of the biggest proponents of the TPP and has the political clout to ensure that any trade pact will pay big benefits. The truth is that no one really knows what the long-term effects of GMO on humans are, mostly because few scientists are looking for those answers, and when those few scientists find results that negatively impact the bottom line of companies like Monsanto, they are discredited, sued, financially ruined, and run out of town. Much like what Monsanto does to farmers that don’t want their crops contaminated with genetically modified cross-pollination. With all this evidence staring in the face of Japan’s agricultural industry, the TPP advocates are willing to trust Monsanto and other politically connected companies that GMO foods are safe for the Japanese populace. Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence to prove that genetically modified foods are safe.
Monsanto, Obama, and the TPP trade negotiations with Japan
President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government. On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised, “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Much like Obama’s promise to get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, that campaign rhetoric turned out to be nothing more than lies. Starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration. President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbyists.
- Michael Taylor former Monsanto Vice President is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
- Roger Beachy is the former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center. He’s now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Islam Siddiqui. Siddiqui is currently the U.S. Trade Representative’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator, was Vice President of CropLife America, the notorious lobbying group that represents pesticide and genetic engineering companies, including the six multinational corporations that control 75% of the global agrichemical market: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and DuPont. CropLife is the group that infamously chided the First Lady for planting a pesticide-free organic garden at the White House. Siddiqui should be of great interest to Japan’s concerns about Monsanto and GMO patents. As part of the U.S. Trade office, Siddiqui would have considerable influence over the terms of the TPP free trade agreement, if not a personal hand in the negotiations. Remember that the U.S. advocates the elimination of food labeling that would allow consumers to avoid genetically engineered food products. Before CropLife, Siddiqui was a chemical farming and biotech booster in Clinton’s USDA. It was his idea in 1997-98, rejected by the organic community to allow GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation in organic production. (The Organic Consumers Association spearheaded the successful campaign to save organic standards from Siddiqui.) Siddiqui was an Obama campaign donor and fundraiser.
- Rajiv Shah is the former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a Monsanto partner), served as Obama’s USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.
- Elena Kagan who, as President Obama’s Solicitor General, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case. She now sits on the Supreme Court.
- Ramona Romero corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.
Click to graphic above to enlarge it.
One of the interesting aspects of Monsanto’s push to sow its genetically engineered seeds across the world is the issue of contamination. Cross-pollination of crops is not something anyone can control. So an organic farmer who sits adjacent or downwind from a field of GMO crops will easily become contaminated. This causes several problems for the organic farmer. For example, genetically engineered seeds do not reproduce viable seeds for the next planting season. So, farmers will discover that their contaminated crops do not yield viable seeds. Monsanto sees this as a feature and not a problem as their intent is to force farmers to purchase licensing agreements to gain access to GMO seeds every year, ensuring a market in perpetuity. Organic farmers would also not be able to sell their contaminated crops as organic. Worse, however, are patent laws, which protect Monsanto. Of course, these patent laws will be part of the TPP free trade agreement. Over the past decade, Monsanto’s aggressive marketing tactics, political lobbying and promises of increased yields have swept the farming world by storm. Don’t ever believe that farmers care about healthy crops. They care only about healthy profits.
Farmers who refuse to switch to Monsanto’s expensive seeds and chemicals are targeted for lawsuits under the guise of patent infringement. In reality, it’s the farmer’s crops that have become contaminated through cross-pollination, often intentionally to force those farmers to join the “club” or be financially ruined. As the wave of GM crops spread, many independent farmers who did not buy into the hype were discovered to have patented genes in their fields, and were then financially ruined by expensive lawsuits brought on by Monsanto’s army of litigious lawyers. An independent farmer cannot stand against a corporate giant that has infiltrated every government agencies, and the courts that are supposed to protect that farmer rights. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. So, the winds, bees, butterflies, and birds, which are part of the pollination process and owe no allegiance to either side, contaminate the organic farmer’s crops, ruin his business and Monsanto sues them for growing crops containing their patented genes. Must I add that bees, which pollinate most of the world’s food are dying in mass numbers, all due to being poisoned by Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides.
No bees, no food. No food, no seeds. No seeds no profits. No profits, no people. No people, no shareholders. No shareholders, no GMOs. Any questions?
Our anonymous farmer speaks out. “We have a right to be secure on our farms and to be free from Monsanto’s GMO trespass. If Monsanto contaminates us, not only is the value of our organic seed crop extinguished but we could also be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because their contamination results in our ‘possession’ of their GMO technology. We have farmers who have stopped growing organic corn, organic canola and organic soybeans because they can’t risk being sued by Monsanto. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Family farmers need justice and we deserve the protection of the court.” It’s a situation only a corrupt government could create. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that president Obama, who is desperately pushing for Japan to join the TPP free trade agreement, is one of the leading proponents of Monsanto’s GMO scheme. Former Monsanto executive, Michael Taylor, who serves in Obama’s administration as the “food czar.” His duties to the public include ensuring that food labels contain clear and accurate information, overseeing strategy for food safety and planning new food safety legislation. Taylor is the first individual to hold the position and he has failed miserably. Instead, he does all he can to see to it that Monsanto receives everything it desire for domination, ownership and control of the world’s seed supplies.
The problem for Japan, and other nations is that the provisions within the TPP eliminate labeling for GMO, meaning that the consumer would have no way of knowing if the food was genetically engineered or even where it was grown. In Japan, food may be labeled as containing GMO ingredients or as being GMO-free, but this would change if a key clause in the TPP agreement was to be implemented. According to the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, “The U.S. has made clear that a priority for it in the proposed TPP is the abolition of laws requiring the labeling of GMO foods, as well as the acceptance of the import of such products.” This clause would apply to the Japanese market and Japanese consumers as well as any other country that agrees to the terms of the TPP.
Critics of the GMO business claim that many health hazards exist, but that they have been swept under the rug by the companies involved, and by systematically infiltrating key government positions. Japan is an isolated nation, with little knowledge of what goes on outside of the island chain. Acceptance of the relative terms of the TPP would force Japanese farmers into paying huge royalties, and entering into perpetual patent agreements. Farmers would be told that their crops yield would increase, and as a result receive greater profits. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A 2003 study showed that Monsanto’s GMO cotton grown in India produced between five to seven times less net incomes than the indigenous variety according to an official governmental report. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of farmers taking out expensive loans they could not afford, and when their crops did not yield the results they were guaranteed, they could not pay back the debt incurred against those loans. Many lost their lands, and to date more than three quarters of a million farmers have committed suicide. Are these the prices that unsuspecting small farmers, and the consumer of foods must continually pay in order for a company that is responsible for millions of deaths to continue to report quarterly profits, and for corporate criminals like Hugh Grant to receive multimillion dollar bonuses?
The TPP is about to change life in Japan forever. Yet, there will be no benefit for the Japanese people. The TPP will only result in importing the corruption of the U.S. government into Japan’s agricultural industry. Japan already has enough problems with the corruption within its own government and is a nation still reeling from the affects of TEPCO and the radiation debacle. There is significant opposition to the introduction of biotechnology outside the U.S., especially in Japan, the EU, and Australasia. According to the UK’s Soil Association 2008 report, GMOs have cost the U.S. farmer 12 billion in lost exports since 1999. Monsanto, has a large stake in this aspect of agribusiness, but suffered a setback in 2003, the British government released the results of three studies on the effects of GMOs, wherein lasting damage to the environment was predicted if GMOs were introduced. In addition, a British poll showed that 93% felt that not enough was known about the long-term effects of the so-called GMO Frankenstein food products, and 86% said they would not eat it. This popular reaction and these findings forced an effective halt to Monsanto’s research operations in the UK, and in other European nations as well.
It would seem imperative for the Japanese TPP negotiators to be aware of the ramifications associated with this aspect of the partnership, and to think carefully before allowing Japanese consumers and the Japanese ecology to be unwittingly exposed to a technology imposed from outside, the effects of which have yet to be objectively and definitively assessed. Already protests from Sendai to Tokyo have been underway. Recently, 3,000 protesters staged a rally in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park that was organized by agricultural and consumers groups. “If the government announces Japan’s participation in the TPP without building a national consensus, it can only be described as an act of betrayal against its citizens,” their joint statement said.
According to a recent article in the Japan Times, Akira Banzai, who heads the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, accused the government of being high-handed and deliberately only disclosing information that casts Japan’s potential entry into the TPP negotiations in a positive light. “Unless the government gives up on its plan to join the discussions, our fears will persist,” he said. The Japan Association of Corporate Executives issued a statement the same day urging the government to participate in and advance high-level talks on free-trade agreements, including the TPP.
The renewed momentum among both those in favor of and against the TPP was triggered last week, when Tadashi Okamura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, appealed to trade minister Yukio Edano for the government to arrive at a swift decision on Japan’s participation in the multilateral TPP discussions. You may remember that Edano was the chief liar communicating to the world that there was no meltdown concerns at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear facility. Since that time we have learned that there were already three meltdowns occurring, he was aware of this, but kept lying to the public. Expect Edano to continue in massive distortion when it comes to the TPP, Monsanto, and free trade. Japan formally announced the nation’s interest in joining the TPP talks as of November 2012. Officials have since held a number of consultations with countries already involved in the negotiations to win their approval over Tokyo’s participation. Recently, those nations, including Canada, and the U.S. have officially invited Japan to become the 12th TPP nation.