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Why US sovereignty is important and worth defending

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The WTO seems to not take into account values that are important in the US. Rob Hotakainen reports for McClatchy:

If you look closely at the can of tuna in your cupboard, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a small label that says “dolphin safe.”

In 1990, in a big win for environmentalists, Congress passed a law that created the labels, hoping to assure consumers that their tuna had been caught without using fishing methods that hurt dolphins. Now those labels might be disappearing, thanks to a ruling by the World Trade Organization, which said they harmed Mexico by restricting global trade. After losing the case on appeal, the United States must respond by July 13.

“Consumers in the U.S. have been clear: They want dolphin-safe tuna, and if we’re not able to label tuna in the way we want to label it, I think U.S. consumers are going to be pretty angry,” said Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington state, who likened the situation to having replacement referees decide the outcome of games in the National Football League.

In the most recent development, Larsen and 21 other members of Congress sent a letter last month to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, complaining that the WTO is threatening to turn back the clock to the days when tens of thousands of dolphins were killed each year “in a tuna fishing free-for-all.”

Critics say the WTO is running roughshod over U.S. laws that govern everything from the environment to food safety and public health.

In 2008, for example, Congress approved the Country of Origin Labeling Act. It requires grocers to tell consumers where their meat, fish, chicken and produce came from. But the WTO said the labels unfairly hurt imports from Canada and Mexico.

In 2009, Congress banned flavored cigarettes with its Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The WTO ruled against the United States again after Indonesia complained that the law discriminated against its cigarettes.

Both those cases are ongoing.

“Right now, the United States has become a punching bag for smaller nations. . . . They’re using the WTO for all kinds of things for what it was not intended to do,” said Joel Joseph, the general counsel of the Los Angeles-based Made in the USA Foundation, a group that promotes products manufactured in the U.S. and that advocates for labeling laws. In September, the group joined with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, which represents 5,400 ranchers and cattlemen in 45 states, and the Boulder, Colo., food distributor Mile High Organics to file a lawsuit in federal court in Colorado to defend the country-of-origin labeling law.

Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, a consumer advocacy organization, predicted that the tuna case will go a long way in helping the public understand the expansive reach of the WTO. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2012 at 5:09 pm

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