One hundred French celebrities have launched a campaign against the upcoming TAFTA deal between the US and Europe. The protesters say the new treaty will lower economic standards and bring a large influx of GMO products from the US.
The petition dubbed: “Everyone against TAFTA” started on June 10 and has gathered over 5,500 signatures so far. Launched by well-known performers, writers and political leaders in France, the petitionsays that “the citizens of Europe are against the transatlantic treaty.”
A Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.
Negotiations on TAFTA are held in week-long cycles alternating between the EU and the US. The sides hope to conclude their work in 2014 or 2015.
The leaked text of the proposed treaty, revealed in March 2014, proposes creating "a better climate for the development of trade and investment." It also allows free movement of business managers for temporary work purposes in the countries that sign the agreement.
“These opaque negotiations are happening behind our back and the backs of Europeans and North Americans,” says the petition, “under the cover of a hypothetical relaunch of economic growth, and these negotiations are likely to lower our social, economic, health, cultural and environmental standards.”
"It’s the reason we are calling on French and European members of parliament to put pressure on EU members and the European Commission to disrupt the negotiations," said the petition, which carried the slogans: “No TAFTA zone”, “Stop TAFTA “and “ No to transatlantic treaty.”
Among the signatories was Yannick Jadot, a member of the European parliament and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Minister of Vocational Education in France.
Comedian Christophe Alevêque, who was the first to sign the petition, told French Le Parisien that the problem is that “humanity, the environment, culture and social protections are second to the all mighty market.”
“It’s these same merchants to whom we’ve given the keys to the house. Now we’re adding a few more keys to their ring. We have nothing left. There must be a firewall, a little bit of control, to make sure humans are a bit more at the center of our concerns.”
Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth. They say the deal would lead to some $100 billion per year in growth on both sides and will generate millions of new jobs.
However, critics say the agreement is not flawless as it may look like it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit. Also with the majority of TTIP negotiations being held in secrecy, it’s unclear to what extent the EU’s preferences have been met.
TAFTA opponents also claim that the treaty will bring a big influx of genetically modified foods from the US, like hormone-treated beef and genetically modified corn.
According to GeneWatch UK director, Helen Wallace, Monsanto and other GM companies were “desperate to push their GM crops into other countries before the devastating impacts on wildlife and farming destroy existing markets,” reported local publication Farmers Weekly.