This week, Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow and Trade Campaigner Sujata Dey were in Italy to meet with concerned groups and politicians about the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the threats trade agreements pose to food production and water.
The Canadian government ratified CETA despite massive public opposition, but Italy has held out, concerned about the harm CETA will do to the country’s agricultural and food traditions.
In July, Dey noted in a blog post that the 5-Star, Liga Nord Italian coalition government reiterated that not only would it not ratify CETA, but it would remove any official who promotes the agreement.
In the post, she explained, “Italians are very concerned about what it will do to their agricultural traditions, in particular, their geographical indicators such as Parmiaginao Reggiano and Proscuito di Pama ham, which are not protected by the deal. Geographical indicators are meant to protect regional and ancestral food development traditions, making sure that they continue to be exploited and made by the people who created them in the traditional ways.”
Italy’s firm opposition to CETA has wavered recently because of pressure from the EU trade commission.
The Council of Canadians was in Italy to strengthen and firm up the opposition, said Dey. “We were there also to tell them that under the North American Free Trade Agreement, our agricultural system and regulations were transformed to big factory farms and lower regulations. And that the same thing could happen to them in CETA,” she said.
In CETA, local, family farms will see themselves more and more squeezed by large multinationals, which will eventually affect us, the consumer’s ability to get local, fresh, healthy food.
Maude also spoke about the threat trade agreements pose to water – whether it is threatening public water services or giving corporations more access and control over water – trade agreements impede the implementation of the human right to water.
In a tweet, #StopTTIP noted, “in press conference with @MaudeBarlow, @AcquaBeneComune and peasant organizations to reiterate that the right to food, access to water and free trade agreements do not get along.”
Today, we challenged #CETA on World Food Day at the Italian Camera dei deputati. With ace Italia Stop TTIP and CETA spokesperson Monica Di Sisto. Italy is resisting ratification of the agreement, Dey noted in a Facebook post.
The Council of Canadians first sounded the alarm in Europe about food security in 2016 by producing a multilingual report, Europe: CETA puts your Food Safety at Risk and touring Europe with the Washington-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. We worked in Canada and abroad to educate and raise awareness about the dangers posed by CETA, saying the agreement is a way to further deregulate and privatize the Canadian economy while increasing corporate power and undermining Canadian and European efforts to address the climate crisis.