WTO Rules Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) is Unfair

Jul 1st

If you weren’t paying attention, you may have easily missed the recent June 17th ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in regards to Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for covered agricultural commodities (including beef and pork).

The WTO found that the United States is in violation of article 2.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement and stated that certain requirements of COOL causes “less favorable treatment” of Canadian pork and beef products. Third parties in the decision include the EU, China, India, Japan and Mexico.

What does that mean? Basically, that congress must amend the requirements of COOL or face retaliation. For consumers, this most likely means we will lose our ability to differentiate beef and port raised and slaughtered in the U.S. from imported meat.

Why is that important? Because while Canada may not have have a well documented history of tainted meat and animal welfare issues (well, not necessarily more than the U.S. anyways), other countries in the case, such as China, have had documented issues with food safety. Food labeling is a most basic and obvious means of enabling consumers to choose the food they believe is best for them and their families.

This whole issue begs the question: when did corporate interest and commerce become the priority over human health and well being?

It makes me all the more intent on either a) raising my own meat or b)becoming a vegetarian.

It’s sad to think that the simple act of eating healthy food – food that you know where it came from – is becoming increasingly challenging. The barriers being thrown up via legislation and corporate shenanigans is attempting to deprive us of one of the most simple and fundamental human rights – our health.

Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh, 2008. Title: Pig. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0