TPP Will Make Us All Fat While Boosting Agribusiness Revenues

More liberalized trade furthered through the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership's evolving free trade pact and other policies is likely to rob the world's people of their right to take charge of and develop their own local food systems, making them much more dependent on imports -- mostly the products of multinational corporations. The result? Richer corporations and fatter people, including Americans. So much for First Lady Michelle Obama's "Healthy Living" campaign.

The localvore revolution isn't just a political movement pushed by the American and European foodie elite. Local farming is longtime tradition in most developing countries that have been slow to industrialization.

"There has been a quiet revolution going around the world, as communities and nations retake control of their food systems. In the U.S., more people are taking a look at processed foods at the supermarket and opting instead for healthier choices, grown locally with fewer pesticides. People in Cambodia have taken a hard look at what’s happening to their climate, soil and seeds, and figured out a new, low-cost way to produce rice, increasing production and putting farmers in charge. Brazilians are favoring local farmers growing sustainable foods for school lunch programs, lowering hunger rates dramatically as a result," observes Jim Harkness, head of the Minneapolis, Minn.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, in The Hill newspaper.

Over the years, U.S. trade and Western foreign aid policies have actually encouraged developing countries to rely more on the global market for food, something that probably should be produced as close to the consumer as possible for highest quality.

Tearing down agricultural trade barriers would merely serve to drive smaller farmers in developing countries and their U.S. counterparts out of business by allowing big business to flood local markets with cheaper, less nutritious processed food. The increased competition also threatens to erode food-quality standards to "the lowest common denominator" and fatten multinationals' profits. 

Concludes Harkness in his Hill piece: "Instead of doubling down on bad ideas of the past, we must insist on a 21st-century trade system designed to improve food security and affirm democratic control of our food system."

Guess the first lady failed to run her anti-obesity campaign by the United States Trade Representative's office. Oops.

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