Mandatory Meat Country of Original Labelling Disappearing

Picture credit: BEUC
Picture credit: BEUC

US House of Representatives  voted 300 to 131 on Wednesday to drop Country of Origin Labelling  – COOL – for US food. The US faces $3.7 billion a year in “retaliatory actions” from Mexico and Canada because of COOL.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Canada and Mexico contend that labeling requirements put their cows and pigs at a disadvantage—not because consumers snub their products but because U.S. meatpackers don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of tracking imported animals. As a result, meatpackers offer lower prices for hogs and cattle from Canada and Mexico.

Consumer advocates, among the biggest supporters of the labels, say international trade deals should not trump consumers’ access to information about their food.”

This House vote follows a number of WTO rulings in 2014, and a recent final ruling in May 2015: “This is just the latest example of how multinational companies use the global trade system to attack basic protections for U.S. consumers,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “The meat industry has been trying – and failing – for years to get rid of COOL through the U.S. system, so it had to use unaccountable, unelected trade officials at the WTO to do its dirty work.”

According to Shefali Sharma of IATP: “In 2008, Canada and Mexico challenged the U.S. on COOL at the WTO, asserting that it unfairly discriminated against Canadian and Mexican meat. In reality, it was the global meat industry threatened by the idea that if consumers knew how often animals are transported across national borders as they are mass produced, fattened in feedlots and slaughtered, consumers might choose “born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.A.” In 2008 alone, the U.S. meat industry spent over $6 million in political lobbying. It spent over $5 million per year from 2009-2012, the period in which the U.S. was revising COOL to make it compliant to the WTO since the U.S. had lost its first appeal at the WTO.”

In the post which includes Sharma’s quote above, we reveal just how the EU seems to be chiming with this idea of rolling back on mandatory Country of Origin labelling.

Much on the momentum for more informative labeling came from the food scares some years back. Presciently, this week BSE was discovered in the Irish dairy herd.

TTIP. ISDS. Regulatory Chill. Regulatory  Harmonisation.  All of these make basic information for consumers, such as COOL style labeling, more and more difficult.

For more on each of these issues, see our dedicated TTIP posts on ARC2020, where dozens of articles have been posted over the last two years.

Oliver Moore
About Oliver Moore 189 Articles
DR. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activitĂ© professionnelle. Il peut nĂ©anmoins admirer par la fenĂȘtre de son bureau les mĂ©sanges charbonniĂšres et les corbeaux perchĂ©s au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cƓur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisĂ©s, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant Ă  la communautĂ©. Les jours oĂč il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sĂšches et les jardins familiaux.  Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant Ă©galement des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »).  Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne Ă©galement des cours sur le Master en coopĂ©ratives, agroalimentaire et dĂ©veloppement durable Ă  l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large. Il consacre la majoritĂ© de son temps de travail Ă  l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date Ă  laquelle l’Irlande a assurĂ© la prĂ©sidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est lĂ  qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grĂące Ă  sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. AprĂšs six mois, il est nommĂ© rĂ©dacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des mĂ©dias sociaux, aide Ă  dĂ©finir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois mĂȘme rĂ©dige un article pour le site web.  À l’époque oĂč on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, oĂč il a aidĂ© des ONG irlandaises de commerce Ă©quitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – Ă  raconter leur histoire.  Il se peut que ces jours-lĂ  reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de prĂ©fĂ©rer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. AprĂšs tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilitĂ©s de bĂ©nĂ©volat dans la communautĂ© dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.