WTO vs Country of Origin Labeling

From Rebekah Wilce, on PR Watch:

The WTO doesn’t want Americans to know where their food was grown or raised. Photo via PR Watch.

“The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a final ruling today against the U.S.country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. This popular pro-consumer policy, which informs shoppers where meat and other foods were raised or grown, enjoys the support of 93% of Americans, according to a 2010 Consumers Union poll. Now Congress must gut or change the law to avoid the application of punitive trade sanctions.

The original meat labeling law passed as part of the 2002 farm bill and was expanded in the 2008 farm bill to apply to other foods like fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Canada, Mexico, and several other countries filed a complaint regarding the policy with the WTO in December 2008 calling the popular consumer measure a “disguised” barrier to trade. The organization initially ruled in their favor in November 2011, but the U.S. filed an appeal in March 2012. Today, a WTO tribunal made up of three trade officials ruled that the U.S. law is a violation of the WTO’s legally binding “Technical Barrier to Trade” agreement. The ruling is final. If the United States does not gut or change the law, the WTO can apply punitive sanctions, usually in the form of tariffs on U.S. exports. The ruling also casts into doubt the WT0-legality of other popular labeling laws.

Last week, the Obama administration invited Canada and Mexico to join the latest trade pact under negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), without an agreement to drop their attack on the popular U.S. consumer labeling. Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch at the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, commented: “The American public is desperately waiting for President Barack Obama to show some negotiating savvy, and to start fulfilling his campaign pledges and reconsider the so-called ‘trade’ model that his administration is pushing with the TPP.”

The ruling is the WTO’s third this year against U.S. consumer protection laws. In May, it ruled against U.S. dolphin-safe tuna labels, again, in a case that has been dragging on for over a decade. In April, it ruled against a U.S. ban on clove, candy, and cola-flavored cigarettes. “These three rulings — with the WTO slapping down safe hamburgers, Flipper and children’s smoking prevention policy — make it increasingly clear to the public that the WTO is leading a race to the bottom in consumer protection,” said Todd Tucker, research director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch….”

Read more on PR Watch.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “WTO vs Country of Origin Labeling

  1. thebovine

    Makes you wonder who or what is behind other consumer unfriendly initiatives such as GMOs and the lack of labeling of products containing them.

  2. Buy local! Buy from the farmer that produces what you eat and let the WTO eat their regulations.

    BTW Lori Wallach…… the great pretender is a Manchurian candidate and his main purpose is to destroy these “united States”. Seems like you are not paying attention.

  3. Bill Anderson

    This is a great example of the consequences of neo-liberalism — the dogmatic belief that the free market can do no wrong. As the WTO forces soveriegn nations to accept unregulated free trade, so are local economies destroyed in the name of globalization.

    The rhetoric about Wallach being a “Manchurian candidate” is misguided.

    • What is Gods name is free market about any other this Bill?
      I think it wise to learn the definition of something before you lash out and demonize it.

      The abolition of the WTO would be heading in the direction of a free market.

    • Please read closer before you comment Bill. The great pretender refers to the one in the white house, pretending to be an American citizen, a man whom no one really knows what his real name is or who he is.

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