The composition of Canadian milk and its by-products cheese, ice cream and yogurt will be compromised if the new federal government adopts the Trans Pacific Partnership.
If the TPP is ratified, now that it is signed by the Liberals, we can be certain that we will see more genetically modified bovine growth hormone rBGH in our milk. Ratification would include the passage of legislation by Parliament to make the changes agreed in the TPP negotiations. Then cabinet will be free to give consent to be bound by TPP provisions.
Other member countries of the TPP will be able to demand that we conform to the lowest standards in the corporate partnership. Well-heeled corporations have only to open an office in the country with the lowest standards in order to sue governments in kangaroo courts behind closed doors. Bear in mind that our representatives will not be using their own money to pay penalties incurred in lawsuits forcing us to conform to the new, lower standards. Payments come out of our taxes. I just love to be held up for ransom by the corporations responsible for the mess the world economy is in.
Currently, it is illegal for Canadian farmers to use the bovine growth hormone rbST (created by Monsanto, now owned by Eli Lilly) to increase milk production because of its crippling and life-shortening effects on cows. The federal government in 2008 also established that milk products labelled ‘product of Canada’ must contain at least 98 per cent Canadian milk. This standard was challenged, appealed and lost again by Kraft, Saputo and Parmalat, who wanted to use the cheap U.S. milk solids containing rbST. Negotiations agreed to by Canada will open our markets to U.S. milk unless Trudeau gets tough.
Last month the Dairy Farmers of Canada complained of lack of enforcement of Canadian cheese compositional standards leading to the use of milk solids (including rGBH) from across the border in the production of ‘Canadian’ cheeses. This reminded me of the phone calls I made to two B.C. cheese makers in 2008. I was told that only the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses from those companies could be guaranteed made with 100 per cent Canadian milk.
There is strong consumer opposition to the use of rBGH in both the U.S. and Canada. Already, Starbucks, Yoplait and Dannon have dropped rBGH milk. But Haagen Dazs, Breyers and Baskin-Robbins continue to use milk from cows injected with rBGH. They probably think that all they have to do is wait us out.
Liberals, Conservatives and sometimes the NDP rhapsodize over how much more money will come into Canada with the big trade deals. But who will that extra money go to? Not to those who lose jobs to lower wage regions. Not to people working in tourism. But up, way up, to corporate owners and managers.
When we have to adopt post-industrial farming with appropriate technology to replace the destructive, failing, food production systems that give us non-nutritious, ultra-processed meals, there will be plenty of jobs for people who know how to farm without destroying the land. How will we pay them?
Marjorie Stewart is past-chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.