Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Senate Bill Repeals Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for Beef, Pork and Chicken

Food
Senate Bill Repeals Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for Beef, Pork and Chicken

The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation introduced today by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) repeals an overwhelmingly popular food label, surrenders to over exaggerated threats by our trading partners and creates more international trade problems than it solves.

The legislation is aimed at solving an ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute, but the WTO process is far from complete. The Senate has never repealed a statute that was challenged under international trade rules before the dispute was completed.

Consumers deserve to know where their food comes but today’s proposal puts meatpacking giants back in control of what we get to know about the food we buy. Photo credit: Food & Water Watch

The legislation introduced today fully repeals mandatory COOL for beef, pork, chicken and ground meat and gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discretion to establish a voluntary domestic label for beef, pork or chicken. It is considerably weaker than the discussion draft circulated last month because it repeals COOL labels for ground meat, which the WTO ruled were trade legal and COOL labels for chicken, which were not even considered in the dispute.

The legislation is a full repeal of COOL with the window dressing of a voluntary labeling option. But before mandatory COOL labels were re-enacted in 2008, meatpackers did not use voluntary COOL labels. In practice, a voluntary COOL label is the same as no label at all. Meatpackers won’t use it, consumers won’t see it and farmers and ranchers won’t benefit from it.

Even if voluntary COOL labels went into widespread use, a voluntary labeling program could still face a challenge under international trade deals. The voluntary “Dolphin-Safe” tuna label has been successfully challenged at the WTO. Today’s voluntary COOL label is especially subject to challenge because it only applies to domestic livestock, there are no provisions for a voluntary label on imports, which creates the presumption that unlabeled and potentially imported meat is less desirable or less safe. That distinction runs afoul of every trade agreement’s rules prohibiting discrimination against imports.

Consumers deserve to know where their food comes but today’s proposal puts meatpacking giants back in control of what we get to know about the food we buy. The Senate should not let international trade tribunals and big meat companies run roughshod over Congress’ authority to enact U.S. laws. We urge the Senate to reject this bill and stand up for mandatory COOL.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

9 Out of 10 Americans Want GMO Labeling: Congress Should Vote ‘No’ on DARK Act

John Oliver’s Beef With Chicken Giants May Have Impacted U.S. Policy

What’s the Beef with the U.S./China Chicken Deal?

The Metronome, a famous art installation in Union Square that used to display the time of day, has been repurposed into a "Climate Clock" for Climate Week NYC. Zack Winestine

By Jessica Corbett

This story was originally published on Common Dreams on September 19, 2020.

Some advocates kicked off next week's Climate Week NYC early Saturday by repurposing the Metronome, a famous art installation in Union Square that used to display the time of day, as a massive "Climate Clock" in an effort to pressure governments worldwide to take swift, bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rein in human-caused global heating.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks onstage at the event Fourth Annual Berggruen Prize Gala Celebrates 2019 Laureate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New York City on Dec. 16, 2019. Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images for Berggruen Institute

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg means the nation's highest court has lost a staunch advocate for women's rights and civil rights. Ginsburg was a tireless worker, who continued to serve on the bench through multiple bouts of cancer. She also leaves behind a complicated environmental legacy, as Environment and Energy News (E&E News) reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less
Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less
54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch