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The World Trade Organization has ruled that COOL — the U.S. country of orgin labeling requirement for meat — violates international trade laws.
Canada initially objected to the U.S. requirement that meat be labeled with the country where the animal was raised. The WTO panel that COOL gives “less favorable treatment to imported Canadian cattle and hogs than to like domestic products.”
COOL does not meet a “legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin,” the panel ruled.
The U.S. has 60 days to appeal this decision and may do that. “We remain committed to providing consumers with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of meat products that they buy at the retail level,” said Andrea Mead, press secretary at the U.S. trade representative’s office. “In that regard, we are considering all options, including appealing the panel’s decision.”
The ruling brought a varied reaction from consumer, industry and cattle raiser groups. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group, said the WTO position would deny consumers the right to know where their food comes from. “This fits nicely into corporate agribusiness’ vision for our food system, but it’s a blow for critical U.S. regulation that consumers and farmers have worked for decades to achieve,” she said.
The U.S. National Pork Producers Council supported the ruling. The organization’s president, Doug Wolf, said the U.S. should comply with the ruling or risk “retaliation from and a trade war with Canada and Mexico.” (Mexico joined Canada’s initial complaint.)
“Today’s news from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the WTO is consistent with rumors leaked in May,” said R-CALF USA COOL Committee Chair Mike Schultz adding, “We’re not surprised that a panel of countries that want to weaken the U.S. would support complaints by countries that want more control over our U.S. food supply. The WTO is trying to usurp our nation’s sovereignty.”
• Some good news for horse breeders, as the Keeneland thoroughbred sales in Lexington, Kentucky, ended this week with prices up. Gross revenues totaled $208.5 million this year, 41.4 percent higher than 2010.
• National Public Radio has posted a nifty map where you can check out “poisoned places.” You can click down to see pollution problems in your town, here.
• What’s love got to do with it? Not much. Nearly all the turkeys we eat this month (close to 40 million) are the product of artificial insemination.
It’s a labor intensive effort to gather the tom’s “contribution” and then get it to the right spot in the hen house. But turkeys have been bred to have so much breast meat that they physically can’t mate.