Home / Culture and Society / New World Order Mystery Meat: The World Trade Organization Decides Americans Can’t Know Where Their Food Comes From

New World Order Mystery Meat: The World Trade Organization Decides Americans Can’t Know Where Their Food Comes From

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Without much coverage from the mainstream media, a shadowy international trade regulatory agency known as the World Trade Organization (WTO) decided last month that country of origin labels are unlawful.

The ruling may seem banal but its impact will be wide-ranging, affecting not just meat labels but labels many food products including fruit, coffee and vegetables. In the near future, you won’t be able to tell were much of your food comes from. Health regulators also won’t be able to discover the origin of whatever bacteria or disease might hitch a ride along with your burger or your veggies.

The ruling follows the theme of other, similar findings by the tribunal against dolphin-safe labels (meant to protect dolphins) and the U.S. candy cigarette ban (meant to prevent children from becoming addicted) as the global trade regulatory body works to dismantle national laws it deems stand in the way of unrestrained global trade.

The case began with a dispute over U.S. meat labeling requirements passed in 2008, a law that Mexico and Canada did not like because U.S. consumers might refuse to buy meat and produce from Mexico. The U.S. could be sued because it is a member of both the WTO and NAFTA.

“Today’s ruling makes very clear that these so-called ‘trade’ pacts have little to do with trade between countries, but rather impose outrageous limits on the most basic consumer safety policies on which we all rely,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “The WTO announcing that big agribusiness corporations must be allowed to sell mystery meat here, despite U.S. consumers and Congress demanding these labels, is yet another example of outsourcing our legal system to international commercial bodies that push corporate interests.”

Such rulings by foreign tribunals over which the American people have no control are set to become the norm in the future as global trade agreements grow in significance. And their power is likely to increase as well. For example, the currently being negotiated in secret Trans Pacific Partnership, a giant expansion of NAFTA, will make it possible for shadowy tribunals (unaccountable, privately-owned courts ran by global corporate interests) abroad to essentially repeal U.S. consumer protection laws and allow various parties to write law binding on U.S. citizens through administrative rulings while imposing limits on the power of U.S. Congress and the People to legislate. Moreover, such tribunals will be able to impose vast monetary damages on the U.S. government and force you to pay in terms of higher taxes should U.S. law cause these interests financial losses.

Whether this trend of surrendering national sovereignty on the altar of globalization continues will depend on how comfortable the American People will be with foreign interests deciding their fate. So far, however, the American People seem to be just fine with the arrangement. 

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About A. Jurek

A. Jurek is one of the editors at Blogcritics. Contact me at: a.jurek@blogcritics.org
  • Americans s/b eating more vegetables-period.

  • Igor

    Good article. Very timely, too.

    These “Trade Pacts” are direct threats to USA national sovereignty and should be opposed by all Americans. Unfortunately, the American right, which always claims to favor Freedom and Sovereignty has already bought in on Trade Pacts because such pacts favor their beloved corporations.

    Trade Pacts give extraordinary power to corporations, perhaps foreign owned, to dictate policy to the USA and it’s citizens.

    Fortunately, a few people have become aware, and so the “Transpacific Partnership” (TPP) has been met with a lot of opposition, as it should.

  • Deano

    Interesting. You do know that the last time everyone leaped pell-mell onto surpressing trade pacts and building protective tariff walls we had a wonderful series of depressions and wars.

    The 1930’s and WWII were primary reasons for the creation of the Bretton Woods system and the development of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade), the precursor to the oh-so-ominously labeled “shadowy” organization the WTO cited in the “article” above.

    International trade pacts open foreign trade markets and growth opportunities to US firms, as well as opening American markets in turn to competition. WTO and GATT are based on fair mutual access to markets. China and Russia used to be closed markets. Look at North Korea for an example of a nice closed and protective market.

    I thought you guys were capitalists…. ? You certainly aren’t economists and you don’t seem to have an understanding of the msot basic parameters of international trade, international law or multilateral agreements.

  • [flashing bullshit alert light is flashing]

    The WTO ruling does not ban country-of-origin labelling. It simply asks the US to rewrite its regulations so that the policy is administered fairly.

    One more thing…

    …If this Trans Pacific Partnership is being negotiated in such secrecy, how do you know so much about what’s in it?

  • Boeke


    We don’t actually know what the TPP involves because it meets in closed sessions and doesn’t release information. More of it’s activities and policy ideas should be made public so that the citizens of the USA (for example) can judge and react. That way people can even make it a political issue, which may be the only way that they can affect what the TPP is and how much power it has.

    This may be the last time that US voters have a chance to affect the TPP, since TPP, like ALL such trade pacts, limits the power of governments and asserts Corporate rights as superior to national rights. Thus, voters lose control of their own government. National decisions are made by corporate executives instead of voters and political parties.

    We all know “The Gospel According To David Ricardo”: that free international trade allows “Relative Economic Advantage” that will result in the greatest good for the greatest number. Rather like Adam Smiths mysterious “Invisible Hand”. No more reliable.

    In the 200 years since Ricardo devised his theory plenty of holes have been poked in it by successive economists.

  • Boeke

    Parts of the TPP have been leaked.

    TPP doc

  • How is the WTO a shadowy organisation? It is based in Geneva, has existed for almost 20 years, is descended from the now defunct GATT and even has its own official WTO website

  • Clavos

    These “Trade Pacts” are direct threats to USA national sovereignty…

    Too bad. America’s “sovereignty” has been and continues to be a direct threat to the sovereignty of almost every other nation in the world.

    Sauce for the goose…

  • Deano

    First off, the TPP is a fairly predictable extension of international trade, given that WTO negotiations fell down a few years ago. Now instead of an all-encompassing multilateral agreement, nation-states are negotiating smaller, more regionally specific free trade agreements.

    Note I said nation-states. Corporations are not at the negotiating table however you can bet that US company interests are being well-looked after (as are Chinese, Australian etc.)as each nation-state has a powerful interest in ensuring the most equitable and advantageous agreement possible in order to build on their particular economic advantage.

    This is neither secret nor surprising.

    Do multilateral free trade agreements have negative economic impacts? Yes, in many ways they do. They certainly contributed to the “hollowing-out” of US manufacturing capabilities as firms relocated to low-cost labour zones but the reality is that much of that movement would of and could have happened without having something like NAFTA.

    If you want to have a discussion on the merits fo the international trade system, its inherent unfairness or impact on labour or economic issues – have at it! Thats a good and useful discussion to have. On the other hand if you are just going to indulge in half-baked conspiracy theories about “shadowy” organizations that you clearly don’t know anything about and don’t understand, then please spare us the shallow, self-induldent articles based on speculation and paranoia like the one above.

  • A. Jurek

    The WTO is in many ways a shadowy organization, it’s website notwithstanding, because many of its decision making processes are hidden from scrutiny, and not just public scrutiny but to the scrutiny of the many countries that are not part of what has been called the green room clique. In fact, there are those who have criticized the WTO for being the least transparent of all the international organizations. This criticism is well founded. The meetings of nearly all the WTO panels, for example are closed to the public and the minutes from these meetings are not released.

  • Deano

    Ok, so let’s take the example in your article, the Country of Origin review – “US – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements” (DS384 and DS386).”

    On the WTO website I can easily find:

    – Summary of key findings(DS384)
    – Summary of key findings(DS386)
    – Appellate Body Report
    – Annex A
    – Findings & Conclusions (summary report) and the Full Report

    If your complaint is that the public is not involved in the WTO panel, you need to realize the public does not negotiate or dispute trade agreement – the government does so on the behalf of their population.

    Any dispute involving the US has US representatives involved at all stages of the dispute settlement process and often on the panels themselves as the US provides a number of the experts for the panels, being an economic superpower. The process, rules and outcomes are all fairly transparent.

    If your complaint is they didn’t let you or random members of the public in to watch the dispute settlement, well there are lots of examples of that going on at all levels of public government…

    Not sure any of it could be defined as “shadowy”….as international agreements go, the WTO is world’s better than the GATT which dragged out disputes for years and years in a convoluted mess.

    Labelling the WTO as shadowy is just an attempt to put a spin on specific worldview without having to back it up with inconvenient things like facts.

  • Igor

    11-Deano: it is precisely because the public is not involved, because the ‘government’ does so ‘on behalf’ of their population. But all grownups know that the government is owned by the highest briber and does their bidding

    The interests of the majority of Americans are not reflected in negotiations.

    Union and worker interests should be reflected to the same extent that employer (corporate) interests are. And the government reps are NOT going to do it. But I don’t see that there are ANY union reps at these meetings.

  • Clav

    But all grownups know that the government is owned by the highest briber and does their bidding (though inefficiently and usually stupidly).