Last week, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy leaked a draft chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union. The chapter proposed by the European Commission in June concerns Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues with food safety and animal and plant health. “This leaked draft T-TIP chapter doesn’t tell us everything about where negotiations are headed on food safety, but it tells us enough to raise some serious concerns,” wrote IATP’s Steve Suppan in an analysis of the document. The first objective listed in the chapter is to facilitate trade “to the greatest extent possible while preserving each Party’s right to protect animal or plant life or health in its territory and respecting each Party’s regulatory systems, risk assessment, risk management and policy development processes.” The second is to ensure that SPS measures “do not create unjustified barriers to trade.” Consumer advocates worry that this provision will be used to undermine food safety, environmental, public health and labor standards. Other objectives include improving communication and cooperation on SPS measures, improving predictability and transparency of each party’s SPS measures, and reaching a common understanding concerning animal welfare standards. Two of Suppan’s key concerns about the chapter are that it supports doing away with port-of-entry food inspections and testing requirements and that it could make it more difficult to restrict imports from countries with animal diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.” The IATP analysis also says that although the T-TIP document encourages measures to prevent trade in abused animals, it does not mandate compliance with animal welfare laws. The draft chapter does establish a a Joint Management Committee to discuss concerns about U.S. and EU SPS regulations, but it makes no reference to how this committee would interact with the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, a private tribunal of trade lawyers which would decide whether one of the parties is violating a T-TIP rule or enforcement measure. “Consumers who expect to discover in the draft SPS chapter where the negotiations stand on specific consumer concerns, such as the non-therapeutic use of veterinary drugs like antibiotics allowed in U.S. meat and poultry production, or the import and labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms, will be disappointed,” Suppan wrote. Some of the missing details might be included in the referenced Annexes which have yet to be negotiated, or at least disclosed. And it’s important to note that the draft is not one that has been agreed to by both the European Commission and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “I think the draft illustrates that although trade officials keep saying that food safety standards will not be compromised, there is reason for people to be concerned,” said Debbie Barker, International Director for the Center for Food Safety. “Although it seems that EU trade officials, at the behest of public outcry, will not abandon EU food safety standards outright (such as suddenly agreeing to accept imports of U.S. hormone-injected beef), standards could be effectively whittled down through more subtle aspects of the agreement and in ways that make it more complex for the public to ascertain how safety standards could be affected.” A major criticism of T-TIP is that the negotiations and relevant documents are not made public, so consumer advocates concerned with what the potential outcomes might be have to rely on leaked documents such as this SPS chapter. More than 250 organizations sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, in May calling on him to open the negotiation process to the public by releasing the negotiating mandate, documents submitted by the EU, and negotiating texts. “This leaked document more clearly illustrates why it is essential for T-TIP negotiating texts to be released after each negotiating round,” Barker said. “This is the only way the public will be able to know what is really being negotiated.” President Obama announced T-TIP in June 2013, saying that the agreement “would increase exports, decrease barriers to trade and investment,” and, as part of strategies to grow both U.S. and European economies, “it would support hundreds of thousands of jobs on both sides of the ocean.”