Last night more than 50 people crowded into a little hall in Tairua on the Coromandel and listened to global food and fair trade activist Andrea Brower from Hawaii and myself talking about food and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The meeting participants were not happy to hear that the New Zealand Government are trying to sign us up in secret to the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. They were outraged about the investor state dispute mechanisms which are heard in trade courts controlled by corporates. They were worried about the pressure from USA to accept GMO food and to further weaken our GMO free stance, They were keen to know which political parties are opposing the TPPA. The Green Party has a strong unequivocal stance which was well received.
Many people said they were deeply shocked that the Government is negotiating a secret investment deal which threatens our sovereignty and could affect the integrity of our medicines, our food and much more.
It was disturbing to hear from Andrea about her home island of Kauai which is a giant chemical and GMO food experiment controlled by global corporate interests. We have a picture of Hawaiian islands from tourist brochures but the reality on Kauai is GMO crops and chemical cocktails of agrichemicals such as chlorpyrifos and permethrin spreading dust over local indigenous communities.
Andrea effectively joined the dots between the food and chemical companies and the free trade deals which help to expand what she called “hyper capitalism”.
Andrea and I encouraged the audience of both young and older people to challenge the Government and politicians about the TPPA and that engagement with these issues involves more than just choosing to buy organic food (although that is a good thing to do!).
As Andrea said, we have to talk about fair distribution as well as food quality. Fair trade supports smaller ethical food producers, free trade undermines local farmers and community choices. Vote for fair trade and fresh leadership on this issue in September.