TPP, Food Sovereignty and Our Health

On Thursday, April 7, at 7 PM in the Rotary Hall of the Filberg Centre you are invited Layout 1to a public forum on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement and how it will negatively impact local food production, food sovereignty and the  safety of our national food system.

Sponsored by the Comox Valley Council of Canadians and GE Free Comox Valley, this forum is part of a Canada-wide tour featuring Dr. Shiv Chopra, a former Health Canada senior scientist and microbiologist. Joining Chopra is Jan Slomp, President of Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU).

The Canadian government is preparing to sign the TPP, the largest multilateral, 13-country trade agreement Canada has ever entered. Negotiated in secret, analysts have only been able to examine the public text since November 2015. In doing so, it’s become increasingly clear that, although promoted as a trade agreement, the TPP is designed to expand the powerful influence of multinational corporations while further limiting national governments’ ability to democratically shape their own economies, priorities and regulations.

Chopra and Slomp are both concerned about how the TPP threatens Canadian food sovereignty, as well as health and safety standards. For example, the trade deal allows US milk, contaminated with Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), to enter Canada’s supply. BGH is illegal to use in Canadian milk production, thanks to public health advocacy, but the growth hormone is legal in the United States. Currently there are no provisions in place to monitor or prevent BGH-contaminated milk from entering our Canadian supply chain during cross-border trade.

This is just one of many ways that the TPP could require us to “harmonize” our health and food standards by lowering them to those of other countries. Our current Canadian regulatory system, based and public health and legal precedents from previous eras, could become impossible or even illegal to enforce.

As a counter to these threats, Chopra envisions a government-run food safety regulatory board that keeps dangerous hormones, antibiotics, rendered dead animal waste, GMOs and harmful pesticides and herbicides out of our Canadian food system. Jan Slomp and the NFU favour an approach to international trade that is built on the principle of supporting – not undermining – the economic, cultural and democratic systems people have developed in their own countries.

Join us for this informative public forum on Thursday April 7, 7:00pm in the Rotary Hall of the Florence Filberg Center, 411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay.

Dr. Shiv Chopra is a former Health Canada senior scientist and world-renowned dr-shiv-chopra-4x3microbiologist. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including a Fellowship of the World Health Organization, and has held senior positions in India, England and Canada. In Canada he is best known for his book “Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower” (2010) and his refusal to approve the use of Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH).

Jan Slomp is the President of the National Farmers Union. He has recently moved to the J SlompComox Valley from Alberta where he and his wife operated a dairy farm that was recognized as a leader in dairy farm sustainability. He and the NFU have raised strong concerns about the inclusion of any agricultural products in current trade agreements because Canada does not have a strong food sovereignty policy or program.

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