You may recall prior Digest posts regarding the World Trade Organization’s evaluation of the validity of the US Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) law.
On Monday, the WTO decided against the United States and has held that the COOL violates international fair trade rules. This is the third time the WTO has found COOL to be unfairly discriminatory and it is instigating Canada and Mexico to prepare to impose trade sanctions on US products such as wine and chocolate.
Consumer groups have also voiced their disappointment about the recent decision. Renee Hunt, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, an organic advocacy group, said: “It comes at the expense of consumers and American livestock farmers…Consumers want to have the choice of where their meat comes from, but, instead, Big Ag’s interests are protected.” Chris Waldrop, policy director at Consumer Federation of America, agreed when he said that the “decision flies in the face of the overwhelming numbers of U.S. consumers who want more information about the origin of their food.”
The US, Mexico, and Canada each have 60 days to appeal the ruling; however, a change in the WTO’s heart is unlikely unless the law undergoes significant reform.