Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.—“Today, the World Trade Organization once again overstepped its bounds and decided that the commonsense country of origin labeling law for beef and pork was an illegal trade barrier. Today’s ruling demonstrates how unaccountable foreign trade tribunals are trumping U.S. laws to benefit global agribusinesses.
“Multinational meatpackers have tried to eliminate COOL for a decade but have been stopped in the legislative, executive and judicial branches by the overwhelming public support for COOL. But trade disputes are the perfect venue for corporate interests to sidestep democracy and public opinion and unravel America’s laws. The COOL ruling shows that these international trade deals trump democracy itself.
“The WTO ruling is being used to justify immediate repeal of the COOL statute, but the Senate should reject efforts to repeal or weaken COOL, including meaningless attempts to make labeling voluntary. Congress must require the Obama Administration to live up to its original campaign promise to protect mandatory COOL.
“The White House has allowed its misguided trade agenda to cloud all other concerns. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should immediately promulgate rules to address the WTO concerns over COOL while maintaining mandatory labels. The United States has been modifying its dolphin-safe tuna rules for nearly three decades to address WTO concerns; the USDA should do the same to protect mandatory COOL.
“The activist judges at the WTO should be a clarion call to the U.S. Congress to reject new trade deals that allow our domestic laws to be undermined, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The American public deserves more democratic courage from Congress and a lot less kowtowing to foreign trade tribunals. The President should veto any legislation that repeals or weakens COOL.”
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]