Chinese FOXCONN global campus:
'My hosts are eager to help me answer that question in the negative by pointing out how pleasant life in the factory can be. They are quick with the college analogies: The canteens and mess halls are “like a college food court.” The living quarters, where up to eight workers share rooms about the size of a two-car garage, are “like college dorms.” The avenues and boulevards in the less industrial parts of the campus are “like malls.”
When Baltimore placed a curfew for our Baltimore children to 'KEEP THEM SAFE' we all knew the problem was failed economic and development policy and taking people's civil rights and liberties away is not the solution. That is the same issue with feeding children 3 meals in schools in what is becoming longer and longer school days. Parents may like the idea of after-school programs because we always had those activities for children but watch as these programs have children well into early evening----and then coming home to homework and you have an entire day captured to what will become more and more vocationally-oriented training as school. Add apprenticeships in 7th grade and children are working after regular school hours. Wall Street global pols are posing progressive as they install policies that will lead to CORPORATE SOCIALISM----LIVING, EATING, SCHOOLED, AND WORK ON A GLOBAL CORPORATE CAMPUS.
That is the goal of this Obama and Clinton Wall Street global corporate policy on FOOD SECURITY.
Schools becoming the 'last frontier' for hungry ...http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/05/public-school-dinners-pantries/70389176/ Apr 5, 2015 ... They are also increasingly the place where children eat their three squares. ... During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama said he would set a .... The school provides three meals a day for their students.
After school program serving 3 meals a day to AISD students
AUSTIN -- For some Austin children, the breakfast and lunch they get in school is the only nutritious food they'll have all day. Austin ISD is making sure students get the fuel they need to perform in and out of the classroom by serving three meals a day.
At Reagan High school, the motto "Not without honor" extends to the rich history of its athletics department.
"After school most people just go home but we have to put in the work so we can compete in our sports," said wrestler Everardo Jaimes.
This year, Reagan's athletes have a new weapon in their arsenal. At the end of practice, the athletes check in and get a nutritious meal.
"The meal it really like, makes you grateful," Jaimes said. "There's also some other players that I know that would go home and they wouldn't have a meal."
Schools have always been able to provide snacks to students in after-school activities. Now campuses can enroll in the Afterschool Meal Program to provide full meals to each student.
This year, AISD decided to expand the dinner program to athletes, feeding them after every practice.
"To be next level, you have to have next-level nutrition." said Reagan coach Nik Lebo. "Other schools where the student are fed three meals a day, it's a competitive advantage."
Providing an after-school meal is part of the district's effort to level the playing field, especially inside the classroom.
"These after school meals really help out students excel and do well both in academics and athletics," said AISD Food and Nutrition Director Anneliese Tanner.
Sixty-five campuses are now serving students three meals a day. While middle and high schoolers get a cold after school meal, the district serves a hot meal in elementary schools.
"We currently serve about 4,000 after school meals in the district," Tanner said.
The meals are free for students taking part in after-school activities, and the district is reimbursed by the federal government for each meal served.
Austin ISD just added after-school meals at Casey and Reilly elementary schools this week. Martin, Dobie and Paredes Middle Schools will start serving the meals later this month.
Some Americans may think this will only affect today's poor---remember, many of today's poor were middle-class only a few decades ago and 90% of Americans are going to be moved to third world poverty if Wall Street global Clinton/Bush/Obama pols are allowed to continue to install US International Economic Zones.
Every candidate for Mayor of Baltimore shouts HEALTHY FOOD IN SCHOOLS just as they all shout WE ARE AGAINST HIGH WATER BILLS. What do they say they will do to make sure this food is healthy? I showed yesterday where the US is importing food from developing nations and this is the food filling our national chain grocery stores. I showed Baltimore has absolutely no large scale public infrastructure for fresh food or small business economies---only yet more non-profits tied to a scattered network of food activism that promotes people to volunteer----rather than giving them a way to earn a living in fresh food.
So, where are these candidates for Mayor going to get that fresh food for all our public schools in Baltimore? They list community gardens----they talk roof-top gardens----but we know none of that will feed all children in our Baltimore Public Schools.
5 Reasons Why All School Food Should Be Healthy
126 Total Shares
Amie Hamlin: Executive Director, New York Coalition for Healthy School Food
April 30, 2014
Back in the fall of 2012, all schools that were part of the USDA school meal program were required to follow new regulations.
On paper, it seemed like a big improvement. But in the lunchroom, sometimes it’s hard to tell. One of the biggest challenges is that students often have many different food choices, and despite the new regulations, unfortunately not all of them are healthy, even if they do meet the guidelines. We all know that healthy food is important, and here are five reasons why ALL food served in schools should be healthy:
1. Eating healthy is an important life lesson. Kids go to school to learn, and part of what they learn about is healthy food and nutrition. Even if what they learn about nutrition isn’t ideal due to the food industry’s influence on what is taught, the food served at school should set a healthy example. Students may like unhealthy foods, but the hypocrisy is not lost on them when schools serve food that is not healthy. Just like students who go home and tell their parents not to smoke because of what they learned at school, students become advocates for healthy eating at home when they learn about and experience healthy eating at school – we have seen this happen with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack programs and also our Cool School Food program, which provides healthy plant-based entrees at school. Learning about healthy eating is a life lesson that not only helps each student, but the ripple effect has a positive impact on their families and generations to come.
2. Schools should support good health. For kids whose parents feed them healthfully at home, schools should not undermine the parent’s good efforts. In homes where students do not have access to healthy foods, schools should be a place where students can count on eating healthfully – this is important because some children may be eating more than half of their calories at school on school days.
3. Tax dollars shouldn’t fund disease and environmental degradation. Our tax dollars pay for school food. School food menus are full of processed foods and animal protein-based meals, the very foods that have been proven to cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as overweight and obesity. In addition, animal agriculture requires significantly more water and other resources than the plant-based counterparts, and is also a major cause of global warming. I don’t want my tax dollars spent on unhealthy food that contributes to suffering and disease, and associated healthcare expenses, as well as the consequences of environmental degradation.
4. Lunchtime should not be a multiple choice test. Sixty-eight percent of all adults in the U.S. are now overweight or obese. If grown adults can’t make the right choices to keep themselves healthy then how can we expect children to choose healthy items when there are also unhealthy “favorites” available as well? Schools are in the unique position of being able to set an example and help students develop good habits early in life. Despite the latest regulations for healthy school food, there is still plenty of unhealthy school food available for students to choose from. While five components of food must be offered, students only have to take three. One must be a fruit or vegetable, but unfortunately 100% juice can count as a fruit. In addition to the main “meat/meat alternate” component of the meal, students often have several other alternative choices on the menu every day, including bagels with cream cheese, bagels with melted American cheese, cheese sandwiches, or even chicken nuggets or pizza. So it’s not unusual to see a child get a half-white bagel and cream cheese and a carton of apple juice every day. That meal is considered “nutritious” and meets the regulations, yet it completely lacks fresh, nutrient-dense foods. Fruits and vegetables are supposed to be occupying ½ the plate but if you visit a school cafeteria you will find that to be a rare occurrence. It’s not that kids won’t eat healthy, but having to choose between chicken nuggets and a homemade healthy entrée may be too much of a challenge for them.
5. Eating healthfully makes a difference – not just in the future, but now.Eating habits are established early, and eating healthfully is a life skill. But it’s not just about avoiding heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer in the future; it’s about ensuring that children are healthy now. That means when students are in school, providing them with nutritious, healthy meals that enables them to focus and maximize their potential, and to support a healthy immune system to keep them in school, not home sick. Healthy food equals better health, better grades, and better behavior.
This content provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cindy Walsh is not playing down the honest efforts to address fresh food in our city and public schools. There are people working hard to make what is an underfunded and under-resourced program work. Johns Hopkins loves to have media focus on issues of social justice with headlines making it seem something real is happening in Baltimore. MEDIA HEADLINES ALL THE TIME BUT CITIZENS IN BALTIMORE KNOW BETTER.
If all these fresh food activities these several years are indeed growing and making an impact---why are all candidates for Mayor of Baltimore shouting ---WE NEED GOOD FOOD IN OUR BALTIMORE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN 2016?
Geraci who is highlighted left after a few years----
Friends of Great Kids Farm
January 29 ·
Calling all volunteers! The Farm needs help shredding and packing carrots on:
*Thursday, February 4, 2016 from 9:00AM - 12 Noon, and
*Friday, February 5, 2016 from 9:00AM - 1:00PM.
All carrots go to Baltimore City Schools cafeterias for student lunches.
For more information or to sign up, email email@example.com
Please share! Thanks!
1. The Baltimore Public School System, Baltimore, Maryland
The public school system in Baltimore was the first to adopt “Meatless Mondays,” which benefit students’ health as well as the environment. BCPS serves locally grown fruits, vegetables and milk, and teaches its students how to grow their food at Great Kids Farm, a 33-acre teaching farm.
Educationby Brew Editors7:40 amOct 16, 20090
At farm run by Baltimore city schools, they’re planting veggies. . .and ideas
Shakaiha Murphy at Great Kids Farm. (Photo by Kristine Buls.)
story by MELODY SIMMONS; photos by KRISTINE BULS
About 15 miles from their campus near the tattered corner of Belair Road and Erdman Avenue, fifth graders from The Green School wandered across 33-acres of farmland and marveled at the city’s newest classroom.
It was a field trip to Great Kids Farm, a key component of the Baltimore city school system’s push to provide fresh fruits and vegetables that students can eat at lunch and appreciate for a lifetime. On this sunny September day, the project was being honored by Johns Hopkins officials who had assembled for a ceremony inside the Catonsville farm’s main building.
But just outside the door, 10-year-old Akil Williams’ attention was fixed on a lowlier scene: a pile of worm manure.
“The worms eat the rotten vegetables and they produce manure to help the plants and everything else,” she said. “And I learned that the vegetables help the soil to make more and more vegetables.”
Her classmate, Justice Harris, added, “I learned the process of making compost and putting that in and what different kinds of plants do to the soil to help grow extra plants.”
It was exactly the kind of insight the farm’s organizers have been trying to cultivate in city students — an understanding of how the food on your plate got there. Their efforts have been attracting national attention but on this day they were receiving a hometown award. Dr. Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and Robert Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, were presenting the farm and its founders with a gold-colored place-setting plaque, to honor their “visionary leadership in food procurement and food education.”
Learning to love fresh fruit and veggies is the main focus of Great Kids Farm, says Tony Geraci, Director of Food and Nutrition for Baltimore City Schools. In less than a year, Geraci has revamped many menus at city schools, and instituted Meatless Monday, a move to offer students vegetarian entrees once a week.
“The single most powerful tool that is available in our arsenal to change the way kids think about food is to let them plant a seed, put it in the earth and watch it grow,” he said.
“When a kid plucks a cherry tomato off of a vine that he or she planted, and it’s still warm from the summer sun, and you pop that into your mouth and the flavor explodes, that’s a moment you can’t teach in a book. That’s a moment that every child should experience.”
Geraci is a leader in the national Farm to School movement, started by chef Alice Waters in Berkeley, Calif., after she planted a vegetable garden at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School and established the Edible Schoolyard program.
This past year, Geraci has spent nearly $600,000 purchasing Maryland-grown fruits and vegetables to serve to city students. His next step is to open a central kitchen where fresh home cooking – and not just processed foods – can be cooked and offered at school cafeterias.
Great Kids Farm sits on a site just off of busy Route 40 in Catonsville, near the Wal-Mart, a mattress shop and several fast food offerings. It was sold to Baltimore City in 1953 for $5 by a black abolitionist who demanded that the site be used as an educational facility for young black men, who at the time were perpetual victims of segregation.
The large main building is brightened by sunlight, and surrounded by acres of crops bearing the likes of corn, lettuce, basil, collard greens, and even figs. Chickens strut in a pen nearby, while goats tend to much of the farm’s weeding duties.
“Those trees over there are from cuttings from a tree my father’s father brought over here from Sicily,” Geraci said, pointing to a row of fig trees rooting in pots. “We’re transplanting them here. It’s about that cycle of life. That’s what this place is about. Long after you and I are dead and gone, kids are going to be eating figs off those trees.”
Greg Strella, chief gardener at Great Kids Farm, nearly welled up speaking about the transformation of the acreage.
“Ten months ago, there were no students here. There were no fields. There was no money to create a farm,” he said. “We are building a place for vegetables, for bees, for fruits, for wild flowers….”
Since December, about 1,500 city students have made it out to the farm. They have helped to germinate more than 7,000 seeds into vegetable transplants, many of which have been replanted in smaller cooking and teaching gardens established by Geraci at city schools. Next year, Strella said, it is hoped that students will help germinate 14,000 seeds.
“What we have created is alive,” he said. “Our young people are hungry for these challenges.”
'Toxic waste reaches Potomac Aquifer
Posted by Jim at Monday, July 26, 2010
Special Report: Delaware Drinking Water at Risk -- What you haven't been told about chemicals polluting the aquifer that serves Del., Md., N.J.'
This is what I mean by throwing a few million at a socially progressive issue and then having it wither from lack of future support. The FARM is a great idea----it is so small it cannot be the source of much food. Bringing food from Maryland growers----is that really happening systemically in all Baltimore Public Schools? If we know much of the food growth in Maryland is BIG AG and BIG MEAT----is it really healthy? BIG AG on the Maryland Eastern Shore drained two state aquifers dry and several years ago Federal health agencies found BIG AG was using bottom-aquifer water known to be polluted with heavy chemicals on their fields. We can assume they never stopped because Maryland does not enforce environmental laws.
You will not find a Maryland assessment of this that is easy to find if it exists but we have known for two decades two of Maryland's three aquifers are emptied and the water-table at the bottom is filled with chemicals in unhealthy levels. Maryland's last aquifer--Marcellus---will be taken with fracking chemical contamination because the State of Maryland refused to fight fracking corporations like states and counties are doing around the nation. The Maryland Eastern Shore is most affected by this because of BIG AG so the small farms surrounding Baltimore using well water et al are not creating this danger YET. The top priority for FRESH FOOD LOCAL ECONOMIES is keeping a healthy, stable fresh water source in the long-term. The fracking stance in Maryland combined with the export terminals for crude oil and natural gas and all that pipeline shows there is NO COMMITMENT TO KEEPING FRESH WATER CLEAN IN MARYLAND AND ESPECIALLY BALTIMORE. This turns into the same scenario with lead in our water pipelines----only soon it will be a case of not being able to trust what comes out of our faucets.
Toxic waste reaches Potomac Aquifer
Posted by Jim at Monday, July 26, 2010
Special Report: Delaware Drinking Water at Risk -- What you haven't been told about chemicals polluting the aquifer that serves Del., Md., N.J.
By JEFF MONTGOMERY, The News Journal
July 25, 2010
Tainted groundwater is spreading across thousands of acres in northern Delaware and has reached the Potomac Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to people across much of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.
In some areas of the upper Potomac near Delaware City and New Castle, concentrations of benzene, vinyl chloride and chlorinated benzenes are so high that exposure poses an immediate health threat. Elevated levels of these industrial byproducts significantly increase the risks of cancer. Sustained exposure could kill.
Northern Delaware is home to some of the worst chemical dumping grounds in America, a legacy of broken promises and corporate misdeeds. Regulators working for Delaware and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have long claimed that the deep clay layers above the aquifer protected it from the foul waters discharged by chemical and petroleum manufacturers.
Those assurances have proved false.
The protective layer over the aquifer, scientists now say, is full of holes.
To prevent a public health disaster, the state has banned public use of groundwater under or near the Delaware City petrochemical complex.
Toxic pollutants, though, are now moving near the edge of that containment zone, outside the properties of Metachem, Occidental Chemical, Formosa Plastics and the Delaware City Refinery, and toward schools and houses.
One plume of chemicals has traveled a mile south of the refinery's main production area and has seeped 190 feet into the earth.
While millions have been spent to test and track the spread of potentially lethal chemicals, little has been done to keep residents informed about the threats to their drinking water. Some of the worst polluters have walked away, leaving cleanups to taxpayers. …
The News Journal spent a year investigating groundwater contamination and toxins moving through the soil. The investigation uncovered a damning history of corporate mistakes and lax government oversight, especially in the corridor bordered by the Delaware River, Du Pont Highway and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.
The newspaper obtained thousands of pages of corporate documents, consultant reports, hydrology and geology studies, well-water monitoring reports and ecological tests on fish and plants. The majority of the documents were gathered through state and federal Freedom of Information Act requests. Most have never been distributed to the public.
The main reason behind the Obama and Clinton neo-liberal policy of 3 meals at school is the goal of far-right neo-liberals and Republicans to end the FOOD STAMP program. We already see it happening in Baltimore as Baltimore City Hall and Maryland Assembly are making it harder for citizens in Baltimore to access social service buildings and to sign up for food stamps. Republicans will say this is Democratic welfare gone wrong-----but the American people and especially our children are now at developing world levels for hunger and poverty because of these few decades of CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA killing of our US economy and global Wall Street and global corporate deliberate stagnation of all our US city local economies---like Baltimore with a 50% unemployment in most population groups. So, this massive dependance on FOOD STAMPS is NOT DEMOCRATIC----social Democrats kept unemployment at 4% for several decades with NO FOOD INSECURITY.
So the goal by Obama/Clinton neo-liberals is to end FOOD STAMPS and pushing children to 3 meals a day poses progressive in protecting children from loss of food resources. Keep in mind-----they may pretend with all this community garden activity they are building a local fresh food economy but they are not as they end FOOD STAMPS with unemployment growing. Think of this coming economic recession adding to this and you see AMERICANS CONTROLLED BY ACCESS TO FOOD.
Harlem residents choose groceries at the Food Bank For New York City,
Dec. 11, 2013. in New York, N.Y.
President Obama signs $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law
02/07/14 03:40 PM--Updated 08/25/14 09:29 AM
By Ned Resnikoff
On Friday, President Obama added his signature to legislation that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, causing 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month. The signing of the legislation known as the 2014 Farm Bill occurred at a public event in East Lansing, Mich.
MSNBC Live with Tamron Hall , 2/7/14, 3:02 PM ET
Pres. Obama signs Farm Bill
The food stamp cuts are one component of a massive omnibus bill which also includes billions of dollars in crop insurance and various other programs and subsidies involving American agriculture. Before he signed the legislation, President Obama praised it as an example of bipartisan problem-solving that would help create jobs and move the American economy forward.
“Congress passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that is going to make a big difference in communities across the country,” said the president.
Obama’s remarks also focused heavily on economic inequality, which he has previously called “the defining challenge of our time.” The Farm Bill, he said, would “give more Americans a shot at opportunity.”
When House Republicans originally argued for a food stamp cut of between $20.5 billion and $39 billion, the White House threatened to veto both of those proposals. During his Friday speech, the president did not say whether he was satisfied with the final $8.7 billion figure, or even mention the cuts at all. Instead, he praised the food stamp program and said that the final Farm Bill preserved much-needed benefits.
Related: The hunger crisis in America’s universities
MSNBC Live, 2/7/14, 3:40 PM ET
Farm bill is hurting our neediest citizens
“My position has always been that any Farm Bill I sign must include protections for vulnerable Americans, and thanks to the hard work of [Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich] and others, it does just that,” he said.
Stabenow, who played a key role in Farm Bill negotiations, fully embraced the cuts in a speech delivered shortly before the president took the stage.
“This is a nutrition bill that makes sure families have a safety net just like farmers do,” she said. “The savings in food assistance came solely from addressing fraud and misuse while maintaining the important benefits for families that need temporary help.”
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the speech, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made much the same point, saying that the $8.7 billion cut “probably makes the program more legitimate than it was.”
In fact, the benefits reduction would eliminate the state-level “Heat and Eat” policies currently employed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Left-wing opponents of the Farm Bill, including Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., expect the burden of burden of the cuts to fall disproportionately on the elderly and disabled.
“Poor people are getting screwed by this Republican majority [in the House] and Democrats in my opinion aren’t doing enough to push back,” he said. “I wish there had been more of a fight from the White House and others.”
McGovern also admitted to being “puzzled” by the White House’s silence on hunger and food stamp cuts. He predicted that Republicans’ success in getting a several billion dollar food stamp cut meant that they would soon try again for even more.
“They know they can’t get a $40 billion cut right off the bat, so what they’re doing is they’re chipping away at it,” he said.
Again, Obama and Clinton neo-liberals in Congress are moved towards this goal because TPP seeks to end public subsidy in nations signing on to it. India for example has fought TPP because it seeks to end public health as the Affordable Care Act does in the US. Well, the same thing goes for food subsidy. I explained how global pols changed the FARM BILL so farms were not receiving direct subsidy but tying them more and more to an 'insurance tied to the WALL STREET COMMODITIES MARKET' This is creating profit for those BIG AG AND BIG MEAT corporations and it is driving the price of American food higher these few years since they did this. Food subsidy in the US is FOOD STAMPS. This is the drive towards charity as food-----community gardens as food-----and as with all attempts at replacing our public sector protections and services----these networks are not helping everyone and are not doing it with equal protection----
THEY ARE BREAKING DOWN OUR ABILITY TO NOT ONLY ATTAIN FRESH, HEALTHY FOOD----THEY ARE BREAKING DOWN OUR SOCIAL PROGRAMS THAT ASSURED ALL CITIZENS HAVING A FOOD SOURCE.
No one wants every US citizen on FOOD STAMPS---that is not the goal-----we put everyone back to work and they will not need FOOD STAMPS. The point is ending this program while food scarcity grows is a global corporate attempt to control US citizens with food access.
'It undermines local control of food: Only five of the 29 chapters of the “trade” agreement deal with conventional trade issues like tariffs or quotas.3 The real focus of the deal is “regulatory coherence.” The idea here is that the current diversity of national and sub-national-level laws and regulations complicate trade, and that some regulations constitute “barriers” rather than legitimate safeguards for public health or the environment. The TPP fix is to “eliminate unnecessary barriers [and] reduce regional divergence”
Whose Century Is It?: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Food and the “21st-Century Trade Agreement”
By Adam Needelman
Published August 27, 2014
AgricultureTradeFoodFree trade agreementsGlobalization
The future of trade deals?
In the final year of the George W. Bush presidency, the U.S. entered into negotiations to establish a gargantuan new trade deal. The negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently involve 12 countries—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States—together comprising 40 percent of the world economy and a third of global trade.1 In pro-TPP rhetoric, the deal is marketed as a “21st-century trade agreement.”2 But the deal isn’t as futuristic as its boosters want you to believe; rather, it’s a massive double down on the strategies and philosophies of NAFTA and other 20th-century free trade agreements. And like those earlier deals, TPP has the potential to impact agriculture and food systems on a large scale. There isn’t a single TPP chapter on agriculture in TPP; rather, issues impacting food and agriculture are scattered throughout the deal. With that in mind, here are the issues that characterize the TPP so far:
It undermines local control of food: Only five of the 29 chapters of the “trade” agreement deal with conventional trade issues like tariffs or quotas.3 The real focus of the deal is “regulatory coherence.” The idea here is that the current diversity of national and sub-national-level laws and regulations complicate trade, and that some regulations constitute “barriers” rather than legitimate safeguards for public health or the environment. The TPP fix is to “eliminate unnecessary barriers [and] reduce regional divergence” in standards.4 This means that if the TPP is adopted by the countries involved, regulations written by negotiators will supersede local laws and policies.5 While regulations in the trade deal would be legally binding, there are also built-in enforcement mechanisms, including an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process, in which corporations can sue countries over rules they feel are infringing on their expected profits. ISDS, enshrined in other trade deals like the US.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), has been a powerful lever for corporations to challenge national and local laws.6 CAFTA has allowed mining companies to sue Latin American countries, notably El Salvador, for refusing them the “right to mine”7—likewise, corporations like Monsanto have power to sue small countries that don’t want their products, and will see that power increased in the TPP. Under regulatory deals, secret panels of trade boosters tell sovereign countries how to legislate.
It’s done in deep secrecy: While the regulatory focus of TPP means that the deal could have tremendous impacts on domestic policy, absolutely everything the public—and most of Congress—knows about the actual content of the TPP comes from leaks rather than public debate or published texts; negotiating texts are kept top-secret.8 Members of Congress only have limited, hard-fought access to negotiating texts. Those who go through the rigmarole of seeing the text are not allowed to take any notes on it, publicize what they’ve learned, or share specific information with anyone.9 In 2012, then-U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk intimated that secrecy is needed precisely because Congress and the people they represent may disagree with the issues USTR and the other negotiators are pushing.10 Under the terms of the negotiations, even after the deal is completed and made public, those past negotiating texts will stay secret for four years after it takes hold.11 In 2012, after battling for months to see the agreement’s text, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) called it ironic that “the government thinks it’s alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away.”12 More recently, 130 Congressional opponents of TPP’s secrecy sent a letter to the White House pointing out that previous trade deals set a much higher bar for transparency.13
It’s a corporate brainchild: So, with TPP negotiations safely insulated from our democracy, how does USTR make decisions? Six hundred corporate advisors are allowed direct input to the negotiation texts, even as our elected officials are offered no meaningful access.14 The “goals” of the USTR value free markets over any and all other concerns, like those of workers or farmers, public health or the environment.15 In this frame, countries’ protective measures like tariffs and quotas, technical regulations like consumer labeling laws for food, and food safety standards like the restrictions many countries have put on beef after the breakout of Mad Cow disease in the early 2000s, become problems to be solved rather than legitimate exercises of policy. The corporate bias in these trade deals is especially apparent in agriculture: USTR’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is loaded with prominent members of huge agribusiness concerns like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Cargill.16 When corporations run the negotiations, policy judgments are made on the basis of how much they “distort” trade rather than how much they support the public good.
It’s dependent on Fast Track:
Whatever USTR and the other negotiators decide must be approved by the U.S. Congress. But proponents don’t want TPP subject to the same processes as other legislation. USTR and its allies are fighting for Fast Track, or “Trade Promotion” Authority (TPA). TPA is a measure originally designed by the Nixon administration. It mandates both houses of Congress to hold a yes or no vote on the completed text of the deal within 90 days, with no ability to amend or revise the deal; this is a privilege no other piece of legislation ever gets. Congress has yet to consider Fast Track and this will be a major hurdle for the TPP.
If the “21st-century trade agreement” undercuts democratic processes at home and abroad, and is kept from our elected officials while being open to lobbyists, who does the 21st-century really belong to? Will people and governments be allowed to protect public health and the environment–or defend the livelihoods of farmers? Or will corporate lobbyists set the terms?