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WTO Appellate Decision on COOL Again Attacks Consumers’ Right to Know
Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - June 29 - “Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) put the interests of international agribusinesses ahead of consumers when it again ruled that parts of the United States’ requirement for mandatory country-of-origin labeling of food is a violation of international trade law. This ruling is an assault on American democracy and undermines the ability of Congress to give consumers basic information about the source of the food in their kitchens. President Obama and the U.S. Congress must unequivocally reject the WTO COOL ruling and stand up for American consumers and farmers.
“Country of origin labels are overwhelmingly supported by consumers in the United States and worldwide. Governments everywhere are adopting country-of-origin labels to provide consumers with vital information they need to make informed choices about where their food is from and how it was produced.
“The rule for mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and several kinds of nuts went into effect in 2008. Since its inclusion in the 2002 Farm Bill, COOL has had overwhelming support from both consumers and U.S. producers, despite repeated attempts by the food industry to kill the program and delay its implementation. “The President campaigned to ‘immediately implement’ country of origin labeling and he must uphold this pledge to the American people. His 2008 Real Leadership for Rural America platform rightly observed that ‘American producers should be able to distinguish their products from imported ones and that consumers deserve the right to know where their food comes from.’
“When the WTO ruled against the U.S. law banning Internet gambling, the United States did not back down and water down the law. The Obama administration should be every bit as vigilant protecting country of origin labeling.”