US Appeals World Trade COOL Decision


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WASHINGTON — The U.S. appealed a World Trade Organization ruling Friday against meat-labeling requirements, a trade official confirmed, challenging last year’s decision that the country-of-origin requirements discriminated against livestock from Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. will defend the design of its so-called COOL labeling requirements for beef and pork, said Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

While the world trade body backed the U.S. right to adopt labeling requirements, “we were disappointed that the Panel disagreed with the way that the United States designed its COOL requirements with regard to beef and pork,” said Mead.

The November ruling, which was hailed by Canada and Mexico, found that U.S. labeling requirements treat their livestock imports less favorably than domestic beef and pork products. It also determined that the rules don’t fulfill the objective of providing consumers with information.

Both U.S. and Canadian beef producers had been pushing for the U.S. to comply with the ruling and make changes to remove any discriminatory measures of the labeling requirements. U.S. pork producers had also urged the Obama administration to avoid a “trade war.”

However, U.S. consumer advocates complain that recent WTO rulings against U.S. meat origin and dolphin-safe labeling are undermining consumer protection measures.

Todd Tucker, research director, at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, applauded the U.S. appeal, saying the WTO’s legitimacy would be further undermined if the appeals panel upholds the November decision.

“The implications for this ruling are dire, especially in the context of a decades- long battle to ensure that consumers know the source of their meat,” said Tucker.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association argues that the requirements have provided no quantifiable benefit to U.S. livestock producers since it came into effect in 2008, pushing up the cost of companies that import cattle. The group reported a drop in U.S. imports of Canadian feeder cattle of about 6,000 head a week during the first year and a half after the COOL requirements went into effect in 2008, from about 10,494 head per week the year before.

The Mexican government had also complained that labeling requirements included in the U.S. 2008 farm bill had pushed up the cost of livestock sent to the U.S. by $50 to $60 a head.



Posted by Haylie Shipp


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