Saturday, November 19, 2011


WTO ruling against country of origin labeling will screw Hawaii beekeepers

by Larry Geller

If you buy this honey at Costco, you are buying a product that appears to violate the USDA’s COOL (Country-of-Origin Labeling) laws. The honey doesn’t say where it comes from (see: Help stamp out illegal honey sales that hurt Hawaii beekeepers, 5/24/2011). You don’t know if is from China, for example, where the bees might be fed sugar water and the pollen might be filtered out. So it would be better to know, right? For one thing, the Costco honey is very cheap. It competes strongly with local honey.

The lack of a legal label hurts Hawaii beekeepers because not only might customers prefer to buy local, they might prefer not to buy cheap honey from certain countries.

Well, forget COOL. The World Trade Organization has screwed consumers once again, and will harm Hawaii beekeepers:

Country-of-origin labeling (COOL), a 2002 idea that was written into law in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a technical barrier to free trade and therefore violates trade agreements the United States has with other countries including Mexico and Canada, the World Trade Organization ruled on Friday.

In other words, the U.S. has lost its COOL with the WTO.

Many U.S. agriculture and environmental groups are upset with the decision, which they say violates consumers' right to know where their food comes from.

[Food Safety News, WTO Strikes Down Country-of-Origin Labeling, 11/19/2011]

The article indicates that the US can appeal. Will we? If consumers say nothing, no, of course not.

We 99%ers need to do something about these trade agreements that benefit corporations and harm us in so many ways.

Guess what—President Obama negotiated another while he was in Honolulu—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).. And he is still working on it at his meetings in Bali.

The last thing you need to know about Obama’s negotiations is that he has no authority from Congress to engage in these talks. This was noted by, among others, the American Enterprise Institute, and I can’t believe I’m citing them:

The unauthorized Obama administration. Because the U.S. Constitution gives authority over trade to the Congress, presidents in modern times have not dared to pursue significant trade negotiations without a grant of delegated negotiating authority (sometimes called "fast track" or "trade promotion authority -- TPA"). …. The Obama administration does not have TPA. It has not sought TPA. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to offer the president TPA in September, the White House opposed and the measure was voted down.

[American Enterprise Institute, The APECs of the Obama presidency, 11/14/2011]

So we need to understand that with regard to the damage that the TPP will do to American workers (job loss) and consumers (loss of protective rules and laws), it is Obama himself who is planning to screw us.

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