DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR COMPUTER AND YOUR SHOES WERE MADE?



HOUSE VOTES TO REPEAL MEAT LABELING LAWS




Reuters, 10 June 2015

“The House late Wednesday voted to repeal mean labeling laws that were widely backed by U.S. consumer groups after Canada and Mexico threatened $3 billion in trade sanctions. 

The House voted 300 to 131 to repeal country-of-origin labeling rules on beef, port and poultry after the World Trade Organization ruled they discriminated against imported meat.

The Senate would still need to repeal the law.  If the laws are not reversed, the United States faces costly retaliation from its closest trading partners.  Canada wants to impost just over $24 billion in sanctions on U.S. imports, while Mexico is looking for $653 million worth of punitive measures.

Some of the biggest U.S. food and beverage companies, including PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Bush and Kraft Foods wrote to lawmakers this week urging them to support the repeal. 

Under the regulations, U.S. meat carries labels such as “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States” compared with labels such as, “Born in Mexico, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States.”

Meat labels became mandatory in the United States in March 2009 after years of debate.  U.S. consumer groups and some farm groups supported the requirement, saying shoppers should have information to be able to distinguish between U.S. and foreign products. 



A little Background: Congress required the labels in 2002 and 2008 farm laws, mostly at the behest of the northern U.S. ranchers. The original labels were less specific, saying a product was a "product of U.S." or "product of U.S. and Canada." WTO rejected those labels in 2012, and USDA tried again with the more detailed labels a year later. The WTO rejected those revised rules last year, and the United States filed one last appeal, rejected Monday by the WTO.

Debbie Barker of the Center for Food Safety said the WTO's ruling, and the House's action, show no regard for shoppers who want to know where their meat comes from.
"It's stunning that some members of Congress are so quick to respond to a closed-door, international trade body with no apparent regard for the wishes of American consumers," Barker said.

So the WTO rejected the “Product of US” and “Product of US and Canada” for not being detailed enough and then rejected the more detailed labeling adopted by the USDA in 2008?  Strange.   Obviously this is some sort of arcane political battle that will only get more ridiculous with ranchers, farmers, ConAgra, Tyson Foods, PepsiCo, Coke, and that securely in the pocket of the food processing industry, the USDA along with the World Trade Organization.
But back to my initial question: Do you know where your computer, or tablet, or smartphone, or shoes, skirt, shirt, car was made?  Sure you do because all of these products are labeled with their country of manufacture.

Now I can’t recall the last time I ate a smartphone or a shoe, but I can recall the last time I ate some chicken. (It was a free range, grass fed roaster hen from the poultry market up in Union Market.  I don’t do beef any more.  It’s just way too expensive.) 


So let me get this straight: our Congress and Federal Government seems to think that it’s perfectly all right that things we eat – you know, put inside our bodies and digest to make sure we stay alive - don’t need country of origin labels but shoes do? 

Well okay then.  Have it your way since I’m lovin’ it. 


PS: Last year, 2014, the US imported $35 billion more than we exported to Canada, our largest trading partner.   Our negative trade balance with Mexico last year was $53 billion.  And these guys are complaining? 


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