This Wednesday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m., the Cornucopia Network of New Jersey, an organization dedicated to local organic food growth and distribution, which Kenschaft helped establish after reading an article about the need to become “food self-sufficient” in Organic Gardening magazine 30 years ago, will co-sponsor the presentation, “Your Food and Jobs—Effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Reasons to Stop It” at St. Peter Claver Church in Montclair (56 Elmwood Avenue). Led by Matt Smith, regional organizer for Food & Water Watch, the event will feature displays by co-sponsors New Jersey Peace Action, the Cornucopia Network of New Jersey, Food & Water Watch, GMO-free NJ, Genesis Farm and the Essex/Passaic Green Party.
In 2009, the Obama administration started participating in negotiations with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam (Mexico and Canada joined in 2012; Japan joined in 2013) to create the TPP, a pending international trade agreement. Proponents say the TPP will increase U.S. trade investment opportunities and jobs and eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
According to The United States Trade Representative website, “the agreement (which includes countries that would make up 39 percent of the world’s GDP) provides global income benefits of an estimated $223 billion per year, by 2025. Real income benefits to the United States are an estimated $77 billion per year. The TPP could generate an estimated $305 billion in additional world exports per year, by 2025, including an additional $123.5 billion in U.S. exports.”
Some members of Congress, economists and citizens’ organizations oppose the TPP in its current form, along with a bill that would enable the President to fast track the agreement’s ratification by limiting the time Congress could review it and make amendments. These groups contend there is a lack of transparency with the negotiation process. They also say the TPP would actually increase job loss for U.S. citizens, loosen environmental and other regulations, allow international law to supersede U.S. law and threaten individuals’ freedom of speech and intellectual property rights. According to The Japan News, the next round of the TPP talks are scheduled to take place in Singapore Feb. 22-25, 2014.
“I really believe in local control; local food being my biggie,” says Kenschaft, an organic gardener. “..This business of taking control; it’s bad enough at the national level (I’m going to sound like a Tea Party person here), but internationally, it’s awful to think what they can do and they have in NAFTA and it will be worse with the TPP… They are putting a lot of power with multinational corporations that are sitting down with the government to make up this thing. They won’t let in press or citizens’ organizations in the discussions and they’re trying to fast-track this. It’s undermining democracy in my mind; I’m a believer in democracy.”