If you think the Monsanto Protection Act is bad, watch out for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade agreement being negotiated in secret, which subverts national sovereignty for corporate rule.
On Nov. 13, Wikileaks released the August version of a section of the TPP, the Intellectual Property chapter, which addresses not only traditional creative copyrights, but also genetic and pharmaceutical patents, as well as surgical procedures.
The still-secret latest version will be negotiated in Salt Lake City, Utah from Nov. 19-24. A protest is planned for noon on Nov. 19 at the host site, the Grand America Hotel.
The TPP forbids a member nation from passing any laws not “consistent with the provisions of this Chapter.” In the version provided by Wikileaks, we see which nations propose or object to specific terms. None of these countries object to supplanting national laws with the TPP.
Built on the 1994 TRIPS Agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), the leaked chapter of the TPP came from the 19th Round of Negotiations at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, and also covers the prosecution of copyright or intellectual property infringements or violations, criminalizing such infringements and requiring imprisonment for what is now a civil matter.
WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange describes the terms as creating a “patent prosecution highway.”
The Intellectual Property chapter (or here) devotes 21 pages to patents for drugs and genes; copyrights cover 16 pages, enforcement covers 24 pages, with the final section of 15 pages addressing how they plan to punish internet service providers whose clients violate the new IP rules. Assange remarked:
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Thom Hartmann’s read of the TPP IP chapter leads him to conclude, “The provisions would stifle innovation, creativity, and information sharing, all under the guise of protecting intellectual property.”
While much ink has gone to the TPP’s squashing of internet freedom, the IP chapter also threatens biological diversity by forcing trade in genetically modified organisms. It fast-tracks patent approval and forbids nations from banning genetically modified organisms solely on the grounds that it already bans them.
Assange characterizes the IP chapter as being “all about extending the monopoly rights of companies like Monsanto.”
Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism) believes the TPP will not only kill the internet, but will also, literally, kill people, asserting, “that statement is not an exaggeration”:
The intent is to strengthen America’s aggressive patent regime and require foreign countries to comply with it. For instance, the FDA considers minor changes in existing drugs, such as developing an extended release version so that a medication need be taking only once a day, to be a “new drug application” and will extend patents based on that. The draft also would severely limit the use of generics. Higher prices will restrict drug use and is certain to have adverse health consequences for some, potentially many, citizens.
Even surgical procedures will now be patented, a move that will spike the cost and limit access to needed healthcare to those with the means to afford patented surgery.
An earlier Naked Capitalism piece revealed that the lead negotiator from Chile abruptly resigned last May for the threat the TPP poses to national sovereignty. Rodrigo Contreras warns:
“It will restrict our development options in health and education, in biological and cultural diversity, and in the design of public policies and the transformation of our economies.”
Biological diversity goes directly to genetic patents, where Monsanto and other biotech companies tweak a plant that indigenous people have bred over thousands of years to its present day perfection, and then claim it as their own invention simply because they spliced a gene into it. That’s like me painting your house and calling it my own.
By the way, if I happen to splash some paint on the neighbor’s grass, she’ll have to pay me for stealing my paint – that’s the state of judicial rulings on genetic contamination in the US. With biotech firms unable to prevent genetic contamination and the TPP fast-tracking patent approval, all food will become contaminated, and our bodily and environmental health will worsen with all the toxic chemicals requisite to GM crops.
This is partly why the Chilean negotiator’s resignation is so important. Smith explains:
“For a former insider like Contreras, this is a statement of principle that comes at considerable personal cost. Remember, he has spent over two decades as a diplomat, most recently in a very senior role. Even though his comments might seem understated to some readers, his call to Latin American negotiators has deep-sixed his chances of getting another senior government role or being retained by large companies as a lobbyist or advisor.”
That’s a pretty serious sacrifice to make, when objecting to mere trade rules.
The trade generated by the 12 TPP nations, Assange says, accounts for 40% of the world’s economy. When coupled with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), both agreements will control 60% of the global economy in ways that enhance monopolies and impose controversial GM-foods on member nations.
The Chilean negotiator further warned that the TPP “will also generate pressures from increasingly active social movements, who are not willing to grant a pass to governments that accept an outcome of the TPP negotiations that limits possibilities to increase the prosperity and well-being of our countries.”
One certainly hopes, anyway.
My read of the IP chapter finds no mechanisms for individual citizens to assert personal sovereignty or reject any of the terms of these agreements. It’s like we don’t exist in the corporate mind, though 800 million people live in the TPP nations. Dave Johnson warns, “if you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the table.”
The next round of TPP negotiations is set for Nov. 19-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah. People can join the Nov. 19 protest in Salt Lake City, as well as the “global day of protest planned for December 3 against not only the TPP but also the WTO and all toxic trade agreements,” as AP recently reported.
Starting at about 24:50 in the video below, rapper Rene de Calle asks Assange about Wikileaks’ latest release:
Current TPP members comprise the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and Brunei (a tiny kingdom on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia). The TPP excludes China, which some believe is the raison d’être for the agreement – so that the US gains economic dominance in Asia.
But it’s much worse than that; the Trans-Pacific Partnership represents corporate domination over national and individual sovereignty, food sovereignty, creative freedom, healthcare access, and the environment, replacing laws passed by elected representatives with rules developed in secret by corporations unaccountable to the people impacted by them.
An earlier version of this article was first published at Activist Post.