≡ Menu

US-EU Trade deal TTIP is a threat to effective regulation of chemicals and pesticides

The EU and US are continuing in their attempts to negotiate a new “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” – or TTIP for short, including measures to increase regulatory harmonisation, to reduce tariffs and to create an ‘Investor State Dispute Mechanism’.

As we wrote back in July 2014

In CHEM Trust’s view proposals for enhanced regulatory cooperation would threaten to chill or even freeze forward-looking chemical regulations and their implementation. The presence of toxic chemicals in our food, our homes, our workplaces, and our bodies is a threat to present and future generations, with staggering costs for society and individuals. Chemical industry-driven proposals for TTIP would neither reduce these costs nor increase the efficiency or effectiveness of regulators on either side of the Atlantic.

The TTIP process is still moving forward, though slower than originally planned, with officials now predicting that a draft text will be agreed by the end of 2015.

In the meantime, more information is gradually emerging about the nature of the changes being discussed, in particular the strong lobbying from various industry groups to weaken regulation under the guise of ‘regulatory co-operation’.

On pesticides, for example, The Centre for International Environmental Law has published a detailed report looking at how the EU and US Pesticide industries are working to reduce protection from toxic pesticides:

“Using words like ‘harmonization’ and ‘cooperation’ the pesticide industry’s proposal hides its true aim: to weaken, slow, or stop efforts to protect people and the planet from exposure to toxic chemicals,” says the report’s co-author Erica Smith.

“This report demonstrates the pesticide industry’s goal of increasing trade, at the cost of increasing the risk to European and American citizens.”

Meanwhile, the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has announced an inquiry into the potential environmental impacts of TTIP.

The Guardian has reported on the launch of this enquiry, including a comment from CHEM Trust:

“The US chemical regulatory system is a mess – it clearly does not work at all. The EU system is not perfect but it is a hell of a lot better,” said Michael Warhurst, executive director at Chemtrust, a UK charity.

“Any suggestion of regulatory harmonisation is not going to mean the US starts restricting more chemicals. We know chemicals are being discharged into rivers that harm the environment, such as feminising fish. Many of these are not banned in the US but are restricted at some level in the EU.”

CHEM Trust will be submitting evidence to this enquiry – we strongly believe that any harmonisation of chemicals regulation through TTIP will reduce the protection of people and the environment in Europe.