Trade deals like TTIP or CETA threaten to fundamentally change how we live in Europe by putting the burden of proof on whether a product is safe or not on public authorities, but on those who seek to sell it. This is the same general approach as in the US. Under such a system, a pesticide that is scientifically linked to cancer could still be approved, unless there is a 100 per cent consensus on its harmful effects. TTIP would make it very hard to apply precautionary measures to safeguard public health and the environment.
In practical terms, TTIP could allow a lot more genetically modified (GM) food into Europe and reverse EU policies on food labelling (US biotech multinationals – major supporters of a TTIP treaty – are currently engaged in a lobbying offensive to ensure that a new range of GMOs are excluded from safety regulations and labelling obligations for GM crops.) With TTIP, Europeans could soon be eating fruit and vegetables with much higher pesticide residues and meat from pigs and cattle treated with growth hormones. TTIP also has implications for animal welfare, which is less regulated in the US.
Another area of concern is the use of antibiotics for farm animals. This practice is common to industrial livestock farming on both sides of the Atlantic, but is particularly prevalent in the US. It is a major cause of resistance to antibiotics among humans.