Secretive trade pact called ‘most harmful ever’ for affordable medicine

Closed to the public, but some 600 corporations, including Walmart and Monsanto are the Trade advisors.

Global health advocates say the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement between the US and 11 other countries, is an attack on public health. Part of the proposal was published by WikiLeaks last week.
About 120 people gathered outside The Grand American Hotel in Salt Lake City Tuesday to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries that many activists are calling an attack on public health.
PHOTO BY: Elizabeth Stuart
SALT LAKE CITY — “Humans before profit!”“Stop the corporate coup!”

“We are stakeholders, too!”

These were the slogans of a rally outside Salt Lake City’s Grand American Hotel Tuesday, where about 120 people gathered to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries.

While protesters marched through the rain, chanting and waving brightly colored signs, inside the hotel, negotiators met for the first time since WikiLeaks published a draft of the TPP’s chapter on intellectual property last week. In the leaked draft, US officials proposed strengthening and lengthening pharmaceutical patents while dismantling international laws designed to keep medicine affordable.

The negotiations, which have been in the works for several years and are expected to wrap up by the end of 2013, are closed to the public. But some 600 corporations, including Walmart and Monsanto, have been included in the deliberations as “trade advisors.” Global health advocates are calling the trade agreement an attack on public health.

“This is a horrible betrayal of the American promise of liberty, of equality, of a government that is not controlled by a tyranny of the few,” said former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who spoke at the rally. This is not, he declared to a whistling, cheering crowd, “a government of the people, by the people or for the people.”

The TPP has been the “cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific,” and a press release by the White House stated that the 12 participating countries view the proposed agreement “as a model for future trade agreements and a promising pathway to our APEC goal of building a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.” An editorial in the New York Times argued the agreement could strengthen relations between the United States and its Asian allies.

But Tuesday’s protest made it clear that many oppenents see TPP as very dangerous.

According to the leaked document, the United States is pushing to extend monopoly protection by stretching drug patent terms from 20 years to at least 25 years. The proposal would also allowing pharmaceutical companies to patent new formulations of existing medicines, a process called “evergreening,” which draws out the number of years a company maintains exclusive rights to a drug.

Read More: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/global-pulse/trans-pacific-partnership-affordable-medicine



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