Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling [December 8, 2015] [open pdf - 1MB]
"Since the final rule to implement country-of-origin labeling (COOL) took effect in March 2009, most retail food stores have been required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground and muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat. The rules are required by the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) as amended by the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246). Other U.S. laws have required such labeling, but only for imported food products already pre-packaged for consumers. Canada and Mexico challenged U.S. COOL in the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market, thus violating WTO trade commitments. In November 2011, the WTO dispute settlement (DS) panel found that COOL treats imported livestock less favorably than U.S. livestock, and does not meet its objective to provide complete information to consumers on the origin of meat products. In March 2012, the United States appealed the WTO ruling. In June 2012 the WTO's Appellate Body (AB) upheld the DS panel's finding that COOL treats imported livestock less favorably than domestic livestock. But the AB reversed the finding that COOL does not fulfill its legitimate objective to provide consumers with information on origin. The United States welcomed the AB's affirmation of the right to adopt labeling requirements to inform consumers on the origin of their meat. Participants in the U.S. livestock sector had mixed reactions, reflecting the ongoing heated debate on COOL."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22955
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html