If, like me, you’re an avid consumer of news, you’ve probably heard mention recently of the “TPP” or Trans-Pacific Partnership. But what, exactly, is the TPP and how could it possibly relate to or impact those of us who care about preventing breast cancer? Let me share with you some important information that I believe everyone should know about the TPP and in doing so make really clear why this somewhat obscure headline-grabber is a subject we all need to fully understand.
First, an explanation of what the TPP is: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an international trade agreement between sovereign nations that establishes a set of rules that impact many critical aspects of our lives – including food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment. For governments that adopt this agreement, the TPP would take precedence over domestic policies and laws. In other words, if the United States signs this agreement, the TPP would trump current U.S. laws on the aforementioned issues. The U.S. Congress is right now considering passing a bill, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, that would grant the White House authority to fast-track approval of the TPP as soon as it is finalized.
Why does a women’s health group like Breast Cancer Action care about an international trade deal? There are three main reasons:
- If adopted, the TPP would undermine efforts to protect all of us from toxic chemicals: At BCAction, we are working hard to ensure that U.S. Congress passes strong, meaningful chemical reform that would help stop breast cancer before it starts. If and when we win strong, comprehensive chemical reform it will mean that toys, plastics, furniture and other consumer products will have to meet strict guidelines to protect public health. However, if the United States signs onto the TPP – toys, plastics, furniture, and other daily use products that are imported from other TPP countries won’t be held to our same strict standards and could include hazardous chemicals that we work so hard to avoid.
- The TPP would threaten efforts to stop fracking. If passed, the rules of the TPP would give precedence to international corporations that have invested in global commodities trade around natural gas or oil. This means that states or municipalities working to pass bans, moratoriums, or other restrictions on fracking because of its negative health or climate impacts could by stymied. Furthermore, under the TPP, localities that have already passed restrictions could be subject to fines. To learn more about the impacts that the TPP could have on the fight against fracking, check out this video from our friends at Food and Water Watch.
- The TPP would restrict access to medicine, including cancer treatment: Proposed rules for the TPP include intellectual property rights, such as a period of “exclusivity” for “biological products” also known as “biologics.” These biological therapies involve the use of living organisms, substances derived from living organisms, or laboratory-produced versions of such substances to treat disease – including cancers. However, these innovative drugs can be prohibitively expensive, and the proposed “exclusivity” period for these drugs would block access to more affordable therapies by preventing other manufacturers from entering the market. Read more about the impact of the TPP on access to medicine on Public Citizen’s factsheet.
To add insult to injury the details of the TPP are currently being negotiated behind closed doors with no meaningful way the public to provide feedback or voice concern!
The TPP stands in direct opposition to what we are working for with you at Breast Cancer Action. Please join us today and take action now to stop the TPP before it becomes reality!