Environment and food production

TPP-like proposals in the RCEP could undermine environmental protection efforts and make food production more difficult for small-scale farmers in developing countries.

Polluters could challenge environmental laws

The RCEP is unlikely to include any enforceable commitments by governments to international environment agreements. This is a missed opportunity to improve conservation and address climate change.

The potential inclusion of investor rights to sue governments will mean that big polluters – such as global mining companies – will have extra rights available to challenge governments for environmental protection policies or action against climate change.

Small-scale farmers kept from swapping seeds

​TPP-like proposals in the RCEP would make it more difficult for small-scale farmers in developing countries to save and exchange seeds with each other as they have done for centuries.

The proposed rules would facilitate patenting of plants and seeds for corporations and are based on the 1991 UPOV Convention, which Australia has already signed. However, other RCEP countries have not.

Small scale farmers in developing countries do not have the same capacity as larger corporations to use the legal system to either receive intellectual property rights or defend themselves if they are accused of an infringement.

These rules would also make these farmers more vulnerable to exploitation by corporations as they often do not have the capacity to prove if a seed variety was already existing in their area.

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Updated: March 2017