April 18, 2014

Made in USA Foundation, R-CALF USA Sue WTO to Protect COOL

This last week, the Made in USA Foundation, together with R-CALF USA and Mile High Organics, filed a lawsuit against the World Trade Organization to get that body’s recent ruling against the U.S. country of origin labeling law (COOL) declared null and void. The lawsuit names U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk as defendents. The suit alleges that those men “failed their respective duties to protect and preserve U.S. sovereignty by allowing the WTO to second-guess the U.S. COOL law that was passed under the U.S. Constitution.”

Food Poisoning Bulletin has reported on this issue several times this year. After the April ruling by the WTO that COOL is a barrier to free trade, the Obama administration appealed. But on June 29, 2012, the WTO ruled against the U.S. COOL plan, saying it discriminated against Canada and Mexico because of record keeping and verification requirements. The WTO also stated that the COOL Act violated the Uraguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

R-CALF USA is the Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund-United Stockgrowers Association. Its Region VI Director and COOL Committee Chair Mike Schultz said in a statement, “for nearly eight years, the multinational meatpackers, the governments of Canada and Mexico, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture fought to prevent U.S. citizens from knowing the origins of their food by vigorously opposing the implementation of the 2002 COOL law. As U.S. citizens, we never gave up our right to continue governing ourselves under our U.S. Constitution, and we certainly didn’t grant the WTO authority to undermine our domestic laws.”

R-CALF USA points out that Section 102(a)(1) of the Uruguay Round states, “no provision of any of the Uruguar Round Agreement, nor the application of any such provision to any person or circumstance, that is inconsistent with any law of the United States shall have effect.” The organization also says that COOL satisfies the consumers’ need for information about where the food they buy comes from. And the lawsuit contents that one person on the appellate panel that decided the COOL case had a conflict of interest because he represented Mexico in trade cases.

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