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The WTO Bans Labels on Meat

Written by Gary North on March 15, 2012

The World Trade Organization is a bureaucracy that vetoes national economic policies. In theory, it is powerful. In fact, it is toothless.

Any nation can pull out of the WTO. It can set its own policies. The WTO has no army.It cannot invade. It can tell other nations to impose trade restrictions on a non-cooperating nation. But there is a powerful response by any penalized nation. It can reduce all of its tariffs and import quotas to zero. It would then have every foreign exporter salivating to get into that now free market.

There is nothing like free trade to undermine the World Trade Organization. “You want free trade? We’ll give it to you.” Of course, the WTO does not want free trade. It wants managed trade — trade managed by the WTO.

The most effective strategy in a trade war is to surrender. “We give up! Bring us your goods. Sell us your services.  Destroy our power to resist by making irresistible offers.” I recommended this strategy back in 1969. Sadly, it has not been tried.

The World Trade Organization has recently struck down a bad law made in America. Congress passed a bill which President Obama signed into law. This law forced meat sellers to identify which nation the meat they sell came from.

Why was this a bad law? Because it added a regulation that most consumers do not care about.

This is not to say that consumer advocac, free tradey groups do not care. They care very much. They claim to represent “consumers,” but these consumers apparently are not numerous enough to threaten non-compliant businesses with a boycott. If they were, businesses would comply.

How much time have you spent worrying about where McDonalds buys its meat? I have spent no time at all. I also do not worry where Subway buys its meat. I always order a six-inch vegetarian sandwich. I won’t pay a dollar extra for a few pieces of meat. But there are lots of well-paid lobbyists who thought they know better than customers do. They lobbied Congress to pass this bill.

Then the WTO vetoed it. The lobbyists are furious.

The WTO should have no legal power to veto bonehead laws passed by Congress. It’s not worth surrendering national legal sovereignty to distant foreign bureaucrats. It is better to live with a bonehead Congress. Why? Because there is an outside possibility that, in a national government bankruptcy, we can replace a bonehead Congress with a slightly less bonehead Congress. There is no possibility that we can replace bureaucrats in the WTO.

Here is a video that features an interviewer who interviews a representative of some consumer advocacy group that you and I have never heard of. The agent speaks in the name of consumers. I wonder why I had never heard of his group if he really speaks for me.

Consumers can speak for themselves. They don’t need a lobbyist to pressure Congress to add another layer of bureaucracy to tell businessmen what to do.

If consumers want grass-fed local beef, they can pay extra to buy it. If they want labels of national origin, and no one offers this, they can buy from a local beef producer. Consumers need neither Congress nor the WTO to tell them what to eat. Sadly, we have both.

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12 thoughts on “The WTO Bans Labels on Meat

  1. Phinneus says:

    Cannot agree with this ‘bonehead’ opinion. Yes I do wonder where McD’s gets their hamburg, who grinds it, and what is in it. With all of the varying health laws[some non-existant] around the globe, why should we as consumers be subjected to meat that may have been ‘processed’ with no sanitation concerns from some third world country. The wide range of pathogens that can infest food and be FATAL to consumers makes this a good law. And what is the big deal??? Adding a simple label to identify the source of meat?? How hard and costly is that?? Leather clothes must have a lable of origin on them??

    This is an argument for the sake of argument and without ANY merit!

  2. SEAN MURRY says:

    Screw the wto.

  3. There are rules and regulations that any and all countries that produce meat products that will be imported by the USA must follow. For several years as a small packer I loved getting Canadian Beef from Cargil, the plant it was coming from was state of the art (new) and you could tell by the product that it was clean. Now there is no discernable difference in any of the boxed meat products we recieve. The quality has improved over all and the rules are the same for every one. It is in the companies best interest inspite of the Government to produce the highest quality product they can, its a reputation killer to have to issue a recall. We do not buy any outside trimming since we are in the heart of the beef industry annd the trimmings no matter where they are produced bear the lions share of any food borne pathogens. If the consumer will cook their ground products as each and every package they purchase there would be very, very few cases of illness due to these pathogens.

  4. I, VERY rarely, eat fast food. I do, however, read labels when buying ANY food product these days because there is way too much that is labeled "product of another country" not "product of U.S.A., especially seafood. It's really a shame that I can only get good seafood when I visit a place that has the industry (there are quite a few on each coast, so why do we have to put up with it being a product of another country?)

  5. Phinneus says:

    Good to hear that there are rules and regs regarding imported meat..but also you must admit there is not nearly enough US inspections done at our own US meat processing plants. Not enough inspectors to do the job right. There is plenty of evidence that our own processors 'cut corners' regularly resulting in massive recalls and frequent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.So I must wonder who insures that foreign market meat gets inspected, and is at least as 'safe' as US meat. Good for Canada and Cargil…but Canada is most likely not the country whose meat we should be concerned about. The need to cook ground meat to well done actually is a good idea, but also indicates it is contaminated and that pathogens are most likely in that beef?!

  6. As a rule i enjoy the comments and articles of Gary north, but I can't agree with this article about labeling meat. The reason being that a health concious person who is trying to avoid the hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics used in non grass fed meat has enough to worry about when it comes from US producers. Who knows what other countries allow.
    A healthcare bill is being forced down our throats that in a couple of years will cost us trillions if we can believe what we read. What happened to prevenative medicine instead of treatment after the fact? What you consume will determine your health. It may take years, but it will eventually be the deciding factor of your over all health. Watch this video. think this is only USA? http://www.q13fox.com/news/kcpq-pink-slime-is-not

  7. I agree with you. I want to know where the meat came from in any fast food restaurant, regular restaurant, and grocery chain I happen to wonder into! We recently purchased half a meat critter because I DO want to know!

  8. It's true. The WTO is a toothless dog. Look at China. The WTO wanted China to make certain policy changes in order to gain full membership status. China promised, gained membership, and basically told the WTO to shove it. Guess what. They did.
    Another NWO tool that has no clout. The US needs to get out of the OECD, the World Bank/IMF mess, the UN, the WTO. US first, the rest afterwards, Global Gummint NEVER.

  9. ihatesycophants says:

    Only an idiot (conservative?) would bristle at safety laws. I'm forever bemused by their attitude that corporations would NEVER do anything dirty, cheap or underhanded to pad their bottom line, abundant historical instances notwithstanding.

    For what it's worth, I said from the very start that Nixon's opening trade relations with mainland China was a bad idea and that we would come to regret it.

  10. ihatesycophants says:

    If you think USDA inspections are too sparse now, vote GOP and if they win you can see them disappear.

  11. ihatesycophants says:

    I'm with you.

  12. Another organization that is trying to control the world. The hell with them