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320,000 People Demonstrate in Germany Against Trans Atlantic Trade Deal

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Seven German cities were recently bustling with more than 320,000 activists who demonstrated against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Deal, or TTIP, just as news of Bayer’s $66 billion-dollar buyout of Monsanto began to break, along with the EU’s hesitations concerning glyphosate’s renewed licensing.

Heavy rain didn’t dampen the spirits of thousands who met in Munich’s Odeonsplatz square. Karl Baer of the Munich Environmental Institute said, “there is no bad weather, only bad agreements,” when sharing comments before a large crowd of local farmers’ groups, the Green party, Greenpeace, and other non-governmental organizations.

The agreements have been hotly contended throughout the world but Germany’s recent protest is among the largest.  The TTIP has been called Monsanto’s (likely soon to be swallowed up by Bayer) trade deal since it favors industrialized agricultural food processes and genetically modified farming over indigenous and organic farming methods. The TTIP has also been accused of eroding farmers’ income, and forcing them to adhere to corporate practices that swallow up small-family farms with land-grabs, and other international trade agreements that smaller farmers cannot compete with.

The TTIP was concerning prior to the announcement of Monsanto’s buyout, but should the merger of the two giants go through, the sales of agricultural chemicals and GM seed could be worth $67 billion annually to the newly created behemoth.

Bayer made the announcement of their buy-out offer for Monsanto just as the 28 member countries of the EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) were deadlocked on a vote that would have halted the sale of glyphosate in the EU.

Moreover, the merger seems to be linked to the TTIP negotiations. The TTIP would weaken current regulations which protect the environment from herbicides, pesticides, and GM crops as well as Europeans’ health. The EU would be subject to US standards which are much lower.

One could argue that Americans have already been under the thumb of Monsanto and its back door governmental policy making so long that they are numb to the ramifications of the TTIP. While Europeans have been vocal about their opposition for several years now, many Americans still aren’t sure what the TTIP is. The wall of secrecy surrounding the agreement hasn’t helped. Even members of the German parliament were only recently allowed to see the text of the TTIP, but only after surrendering their purse, phone, all electronics, and their jacket, while being confined to a secured room for a mere two hours in order to peruse a legal text that is hundreds of pages long.

There has not been a demonstration of this size against the TTIP in America, though many smaller groups have signed petitions, sent letters to their representatives, and conducted smaller demonstrations on the capitol’s steps.

It isn’t as though there is no opposition in the US, but Germans are making it overwhelmingly clear that they oppose both the TTIP and the Bayer-Monsanto merger. It would simply extend US corporate control further into the world.

Image credit: Washington Post

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