Trans-Pacific Partnership Makes Activists Sick. Literally.
The secrecy with which the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations have been conducted is enough to make anyone nauseous. Outside a small group of international negotiators, few have been allowed access to the negotiating text—and no one is allowed to tell the dirty public what the negotiators are about. We outsiders—or, as the US Trade Representative likes to call us, "stakeholders"—have had to rely upon a series of leaked drafts, each of which contain a number of bile-inducing stipulations; although even with these leaks, we are still quite in the dark as to what the agreement presently contains. Calls to make negotiations transparent have been deflected by US officials, who hold that the time for public input is after talks are complete, the logic of which certainly churns my stomach.
When the 14th round of negotiations closed just a few days ago, the eleven-nation group of Pacific-rim countries was mercifully still a ways away from consensus. This is fortunate, because at least, while it is still on the drawing board, the TPP can't actually make anyone ill.
Except, apparently, it has.
A pair of activists calling themselves the Bionic Bile Brigade are quite literally getting sick over the TPP's attempts to weaken food safety standards and limit access to generic drugs. They even took their vomiting escapades to the TPP negotiations in Leesburgh, Virginia—and posted a video of their exploits to YouTube. The TPP is not for those with weak stomaches—and neither is this video.
While some may question the appropriateness of such an action, I, for one, consider it a fitting tribute. The TPP is being heralded as a trade agreement, but it encompasses far more than the standardization of customs procedures. It's more akin to an international corporate bill of rights, asserting the supremacy of profit for the few over the lives and livelihoods of the many. Leaked drafts reveal demands for greater intellectual property rights, which would bring in big money for Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, and Hollywood, but would make it more difficult for millions to access life-saving medicines, for small farmers to survive, and for people to use the internet. Also revealed were plans to institute international tribunals that would allow corporations to challenge domestic regulations meant to protect the public—and allow the companies to sue for recompense if adhering to regulations cut into their profits. And who do you think would wind up footing the bill? The loathsome masses. Oh, wait, that's us!
The TPP would affect all of us on a personal level—and I do mean all of us, as the agreement would ultimately be open to all nations to join. But as of this moment, we are not allowed any say in how it unfolds. And that is disgusting. The Bionic Bile Brigade's tactic simply reflects its subject matter.