How trade agreements affect our everyday life

Posted April 20, 2016

Duration: 55:00

About the course

Free trade agreements are about much more than exports and imports. The pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) includes the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries covering 40 percent of the global economy. Its 30 chapters include binding rules on investment, food safety and labeling, patents on medicines, foods and plants, among other issues. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and European Union would expand on those issues to also create a transnational regulatory council that would create new obstacles to better rules, as well as to open up public procurement programs to bids from foreign firms, eliminating programs that favor local economies.

If approved, these agreements would create permanent rules that would limit local efforts to rebuild food systems so they are fair, healthy and sustainable. But they’re not done yet. The TPP has been signed, but not ratified, and the TTIP is still under negotiation. In this e-learning course, we break down the basics of what farmers and eaters should know about the trade deals. The course includes brief videos describing how these trade agreements could affect rules on food safety, food labeling, pesticides and public procurement, along with slides and other learning tools.

These trade deals could affect many aspects of our economies and environments. In this course, we focus on issues related to our food system. The segments include:

  • How international trade policy affects state and local leadership on food labeling.
  • Localization on the trade agenda: how procurement rules in trade agreements restrict buy local programs
  • Pre-empting the public interest on state pesticides rules
  • Food safety rules


Module Duration
SPS Measures: What they are and why they matter

A presentation on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and why they are important for maintaining global health.

Local Procurement and Trade

This module explains how localization efforts may come under attack through the current trade agreements being negotiated.

Pesticide Regulation and Trade

This module tells us how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade agreement will limit U.S. states' pesticide protection.

Food Labeling and Trade

This module explains the risks to lableing associated with international trade agreements.



Karen Hansen-Kuhn

Karen Hansen-Kuhn has been working on trade and economic justice since the beginning of the NAFTA debate. She has published articles on U.S. trade and agriculture policies, the impacts of U.S. biofuels policies on food security, and women and food crises. She started to learn about the challenges facing farmers as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, where she worked with a rural cooperative. She was the international coordinator of the Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART), a U.S. multisectoral coalition promoting just and sustainable trade, until 2005. After that, she was policy director…

Steve Suppan, Ph.D.

Steve Suppan has been a policy analyst at IATP since 1994. Much of Steve's work is to explain U.S. agriculture, trade and food safety policy to foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations, especially farmer organizations. This work has taken him to about 35 countries, most recently Costa Rica, South Africa and Mexico. Steve has also represented IATP at meetings of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He was the NGO liaison to the U.S. government for the World Food Summit +5 in…

Sharon Anglin Treat, JD

Sharon Anglin Treat is a lawyer and public policy analyst. Current work focuses on the intersection of environmental, food and public health policy and international trade agreements. Recent papers include “Preempting the Public Interest” for the Center for International Environmental Law on U.S. states’ chemical and pesticide laws and regulations, and a paper for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy on state-level food labeling laws.

A former Maine legislator, Treat served 11 terms and held leadership positions including Senate Majority Leader, and chaired committees in…


Download the slides from SPS Measures: What they are and why they matter
Download the slides from Local Procurement and Trade
Download the slides from Pesticide Regulation and Trade
Download the slides from Food Labeling and Trade