I miti del TTIP sulle pagine del Financial Times
Quanto gli OGM, il famigerato pollo clorinato o i mitici vitelli ormonati siano miti e non abbiano nulla a che fare con il TTIP, lo smentisce persino il Financial Times in un suo commento di del 23 Aprile scorso.
Il TTIP è ovviamente molto altro: trade diversion con rischio di indebolimento degli scambi intraUE, un regime di protezione dei diritti degli investitori forgiato sulle esigenze del privato, rischio di uscita dal mercato di centinaia di migliia di piccoli produttori agricoli e di piccole e medie imprese.
Ma che alcuni dei tanto decantati “miti”, come da vulgata del Governo italiano e della Commissione Europea, compaiano miracolosamente nelle autorevoli pagine del Financial Times come elementi che potrebbero mettere in crisi il negoziato potrebbe significare due cose: o che il FT si è convertito al complottismo e al misticismo, o che qualcuno, ai vertici istituzionali del nosto Paese e della Commissione, raccoota lucciole per lanterne.
The EU makes a mess of bioengineered food
Brussels’ plans for a GMO opt-out damages transatlantic trade talks
ever watch laws or sausages being made: a maxim often attributed to Otto von Bismarck, one of Europe’s greatest statesmen. Alas, such a warning often covers all production and regulation of food where the EU is involved.
The EU this week attempted to reconcile the competing demands of farmers, consumers and activists with a proposal on bioengineered foods and produced a genetically modified dog’s breakfast. The European Commission’s suggestion, that individual member states be allowed to ban strains of genetically modified seeds even if approved by the EU, is short-sighted, anti-scientific and possibly in breach of EU law.
It also reinforces the EU’s reputation as an unreliable interlocutor in international trade talks. US farmers are adamant they want the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) liberalised as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Since its launch in 2013, TTIP has made scant progress. Proposals like these will make talks yet more difficult.
The EU’s attitudes to food safety have often been based on consumers’ irrational fears and farmers’ naked self-interest. The advice of its own scientists is routinely ignored. One of the first actions of Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president was to abolish the post of chief scientific adviser, giving in to pressure from environmental and other lobby groups. Only one bioengineered crop, a strain of maize, is cultivated commercially on any scale in the EU, despite a broad scientific consensus that GMOs pose no significant threat to human health.
The top five agricultural exports from the US — soyabeans, corn, beef, chicken and pork — are kept out of the EU through a variety of wrong-headed objections about GMOs, growth hormones and cleansing processes. The last attempt to seal a US-EU regulatory agreement, the Transatlantic Economic Council created in 2007, soon foundered on the vexed issue of whether the EU would admit chicken meat that had followed the US process of being cleansed with chlorinated water. Amid jurisdictional disputes between commission directorates and fierce opposition from European poultry farmers, and despite EU scientific advice in favour of admitting imports, negotiations collapsed.
Mindful of that unfortunate precedent, the US pressed the EU to change its rules for cleaning beef carcases and transporting live pigs as a prerequisite for launching TTIP. But such gestures have evidently done little to change the European way of thinking.
There is little surprise that GMOs have proved an immensely difficult issue within TTIP. Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner at its launch, insisted from the beginning that GMOs were not up for discussion. But this week’s proposal suggests the EU will permanently entrench an irrational system of policy making when other food hygiene issues come up for negotiation. Its stance may not even survive a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice, since it appears to run counter to single market rules.
In the meantime, the US presses on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal in the Asia-Pacific, where it finds negotiating partners less capricious. If TTIP grinds to a halt, the EU has only itself to blame. A trading bloc that cannot agree consistent policies within its own ranks will always have difficulty negotiating complex deals with another. The commission’s plans have pleased no one. They should be unified and simplified, and should work towards ending the baseless prejudice against GMOs that holds back European agriculture and makes its food needlessly expensive.