A powerful international body is overriding laws passed by Congress that tell you what country your meat comes from—and Congress is letting it happen. Action Alert!
Last week’s World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling is pushing some members of Congress to cave in to Big Food. The international body ruled that the United States’ country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law for beef and pork was discriminatory, and that Canada and Mexico are entitled to retaliatory tariffs of $782 million and $227.8 million, respectively.
COOL has been in place since 2009. It requires meat to be labeled to indicate where it was born, raised, and processed. Seafood labeling has been covered since 2005. Other laws cover other types of food such as vegetables.
The WTO’s decision comes as no surprise. As we reported previously, the WTO had already ruled that COOL unfairly discriminates against meat from Canada and Mexico, violating the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. However, before the WTO put a price tag on COOL, the House of Representatives buckled and voted to repeal the law, likely from the fear that the tariffs would hurt large beef and pork producers in their districts. Now, key members of the Senate are indicating that they too are in support of repealing COOL. Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) said last week, “I will continue to look for all legislative opportunities to repeal COOL.” The ranking member on the committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), has pledged to avoid retaliatory tariff on US products.
The COOL law, like mandatory GMO labeling, is overwhelmingly popular with the public. One poll found that 92% of Americans support COOL. Any decision to alter or remove COOL is to surrender to large industrial pork and beef producers in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
As we noted in our previous coverage, an especially troubling aspect of this issue is the precedent it sets. The WTO is not democratic, and decisions are often made by bureaucrats who meet in secret and are not screened for conflicts of interest. If the WTO can arbitrarily override our law, couldn’t it act similarly against other country-of-origin laws, and then against any future GMO labeling laws? From there it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for the WTO to be telling us what can be on other food labels—or even supplement labels.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal raises similar concerns, as we noted in recent coverage.
The bottom line is this: consumers should have access to health and safety information about their food so they can make informed choices about what to feed their families. Congress should not kowtow to the WTO.
Action Alert! Write to your senators and urge them to oppose the repeal of COOL. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health