Skip to content

NEWS: Where’s the beef (from)?

In October 2009, the Globe and Mail reported, “Trade Minister Stockwell Day said that he has asked a WTO dispute settlement panel to determine whether U.S. country-of-origin labelling rules impose ‘unfair and unnecessary’ costs on Canadian farmers.” CBC explained, “The legislation…requires meat processed in the U.S. but made from Canadian livestock to be labelled as Canadian rather than simply North American as has been the case to date.” The Globe and Mail added, “Exporters warn that such rules are conspiring to make the Canada-U.S. border thicker, undermining long-standing ties within integrated industries.”

Today, Reuters reports, “The WTO has ruled against some U.S. labeling regulations for meat sold in supermarkets, saying they discriminate against foreign suppliers, people close to the case said on Thursday. The confidential interim ruling, if approved later this year, would deal a partial victory to Mexican and Canadian breeders frustrated in their attempts to export to the United States, and opens the way to scores of similar legal challenges, the sources said.”

Reuters notes, “More broadly, the case highlights a growing trend toward subtle trade barriers — including standards on health, safety or consumer information — that can hit demand for imports. The ruling is expected to spur similar cases around the world where exports worth billions of dollars are being slowed by such standards, some of which are designed specifically to galvanize local consumer loyalty.”

Food & Water Watch fought for country of origin labelling legislation in the United States. For their commentary on why it’s important, please go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/consumer-labels/ and http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/consumer-labels/country-of-origin-labeling/.
Our campaign blogs on this from 2009 can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=461and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1941.