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Meat Labeling Sparks Debate Over National Sovereignty, Free Trade

(Jim Spencer – Star Tribune)

The U.S. court system upheld rules that require meatpackers to tell consumers where animals used in their products are born, raised and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization (WTO) may have killed the rules.

Last week’s WTO ruling against country of origin labeling — known as COOL — touched off a dicey debate. It concerns the balance between national sovereignty and international oversight in the era of global trade.

“We have an extragovernmental body making the rules,” said Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. “I was elected by the people of Minnesota. But we jumped faster for the WTO than we do for our constituents.”

While food labeling opponents, including Minnesota-based Cargill and Hormel, failed to convince a series of federal judges that COOL rules were unreasonably burdensome and infringed on companies’ free speech, the U.S. House is now expected to repeal the COOL rules because of the WTO decision. Click here to read more.

Related: Food Labels and the Trouble with Trade Deals (Los Angeles Times)