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Angus Journal


U.S. Sovereignty Usurped by WTO's COOL Decision


BILLINGS, Mont. (November 18, 2011) — Today, a panel of three foreign diplomats seated by the United Nation's World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a decision regarding complaints filed against the United States' country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law that informs U.S. consumers as to the origins of their food.

The panel consists of a diplomat from Pakistan — the country that harbored the world's most dangerous terrorist, Osama Bin Laden; a diplomat from Switzerland; and, a diplomat who is a former WTO employee.

The complaint against the United States' COOL law was filed with the WTO in 2008 by livestock importers Canada, which introduced mad cow disease into the U.S., and Mexico, which continually reintroduces bovine tuberculosis (TB) into the United States. Joining the complaint as third parties were 12 additional countries, including China, which has a long history of importing tainted products into the United States.

"Today's news from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the WTO is consistent with rumors leaked in May," said Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) COOL Committee Chair Mike Schultz, adding, "We're not surprised that a panel of countries that want to weaken the U.S. would support complaints by countries that want more control over our U.S. food supply. The WTO is trying to usurp our nation's sovereignty."

According to the WTO, the panel found U.S. COOL is inconsistent with the United States' WTO obligations and does not fulfill its legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin.

"Since when do we allow an international tribunal to dictate to our U.S. Congress what is or is not a legitimate objective of providing information to United States' citizens?" Schultz asked rhetorically.

The USTR put a more positive spin on the WTO's decision by issuing the following statement today:

"We are pleased that the panel affirmed the right of the United States to require country of origin labeling for meat products," said Andrea Mead, Press Secretary for the Office of the USTR. "Although the panel disagreed with the specifics of how the United States designed those requirements, we remain committed to providing consumers with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of meat products that they buy at the retail level. In that regard we are considering all options, including appealing the panel's decision."

R-CALF USA members, however, believe that U.S. officials do not comprehend the dangers of allowing international tribunals to erode U.S. sovereignty and they passed the following resolution regarding COOL in a 2011 mail-out ballot that received a positive vote from 99.7 percent of its voting members:

WHEREAS, R-CALF USA's policy duly enacted by a majority vote of its members in 2010 directs R-CALF USA to work to withdraw the United States from any trade agreement, treaty or organization that usurps the power of the U.S. Congress, States, or local governments, weakens our sovereignty, or violates the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, as an exercise of our sovereignty and in full conformity with the U.S. Constitution, the United States Congress and the President of the United States in 2002 passed into law, and later expanded that law in 2008, a requirement for mandatory COOL for beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat meat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, ginseng, and macadamia nuts; and

WHEREAS, COOL is intended to provide valuable information to United States consumers enabling them to identify the country in which the food they purchase for themselves and their families was grown, raised and produced; and

WHEREAS, the information COOL is to provide allows consumers to exercise choice in the marketplace by empowering them to choose from what country they want to purchase their food, choose from what country's production and safety standards they want their food produced, and choose to support United States farmers and ranchers by purchasing food grown, raised and produced exclusively in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the food exporting countries of Mexico and Canada, and later joined by third-party exporting country participants Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, European Union, Guatemala, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Peru and Chinese Taipei, filed a complaint against the United States' COOL law with the international tribunal known under the WTO, which formally cooperates and coordinates with the United Nations; and

WHEREAS, the WTO has selected a three-judge tribunal panel of foreign citizens to decide the fate of the United States' COOL law that consist of the following unelected, foreign citizens: Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor Ahmad, who represents the country that harbored the world's most dangerous terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, as well as a country with a history of exporting beef products to the United States; Christian Häberlï, a research employee of the World Trade Institute in Bern, Switzerland — a country also with a history of exporting beef products to the United States; and João Magalhães, a former employee of the WTO turned consultant and of unknown nationality; and

WHEREAS, this WTO tribunal, at least two members of which have a clear conflict of interest as they represent countries with a history of exporting beef to the United States, has reportedly issued a preliminary ruling that would strike down the United States COOL law alleging that the law violates provisions of the WTO's agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade; and

WHEREAS, this WTO tribunal members of which are known to be trained on the rights and privileges accorded to U.S. citizens [under the U.S. Constitution] was further reported to have usurped the U.S. Congress by ruling that U.S. COOL requirements do not fulfill the stated congressional objective of helping to inform consumers of the origin of meat; and

WHEREAS, any action on the part of this tribunal to demand any form of concession from the United States with respect to the United States' law would constitute a direct attack on the sovereignty of the United States of America.

Now, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that if the reported, preliminary ruling against the United States' COOL law stands as the official ruling of the WTO, and should the WTO attempt to demand any form of concession from the United States as a condition for the United States to continue to exercise its sovereign right to inform its citizens as to the country-of-origin of their food through its 2002 COOL law as amended in 2008, R-CALF USA will call on Congress and the President of the United States to immediately withdraw from and not support the World Trade Organization.

Editor's Note: This article is from the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, www.r-calfusa.com.




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