By Carlo Petrini, Founder and President of Slow Food
What would you say to your neighbor if he and the other residents of your housing complex informed you (with your only notice the demolition crew in front of your house) that he and the others have decided to raze the building and there is nothing you can do about it? This might seem an odd question, yet it might be useful to ask oneself: Can democracy justify an individual’s ability to make decisions for others, without the interested parties’ participation in the discussion?
The governments of modern countries are the delegates of the world’s housing complex. What happens if they make a decision that doesn’t resonate with the majority of the citizens they represent, or if it jeopardizes freedom of choice for oneself and one’s children? Those decisions, then, should not only be able to be freely discussed, but should, at the very least, be allowed to be made public.
This is what terrifies me about the imminent ratification of the transatlantic trade agreement TTIP (one of those common cryptic acronyms- Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). If passed, our everyday food system, which already lends itself to drastic and surreptitious change, will continue to become even more disconnected from the purview of the people.
The treaty is proclaimed an extraordinary economic growth opportunity, one which would foster economic growth and magically make both Europe and the US richer. I say magically, because Nobel Prize winner in Economics Joseph Stiglitz wrote openly that the theory that if the upper class becomes even richer the entire society benefits is simply a lie. The free trade agreements, from NAFTA on, have not actually lead to an increase in a quality of life for small producers and those at an economic disadvantage, but have only multiplied the earnings of the richest speculators.