Archive for the 'World Trade Organization Repeals Popular Meat Labeling' Category

24
Dec
15

The Official End to Country-of-Origin Labels on Meat

The Official End to Country Of Origin Labels

Source 12/18/2015 : Spending Bill Eliminates Rule for Labels Specifying Meat’s Country of Origin

When people think of safe food, we very often think of the U.S. A. as one of the elite places for safe food and water. The reason for this praise has been due to hard-fought regulations and inspections that have developed over the years. The same can be said of the ‘Country Of Origin Labels’ (C.O.O.L.), a law passed declaring that meat had to be labelled as to where it came from. 90% of people approve of COOL (Reference 1). The fact that the COOL law is being repealed is considered one of the most outrageous acts ever (and there are many). Here is a law that had protected our food  and made the companies that process food more responsible in bringing food to America. So why repeal it? Who would do such a dastardly deal? That is the reason for this article. But first we have to accurately define what exactly is COOL and its history. And the we will go into the reasons why the enemies of the law wanted it repealed.

cool

What is C.O.O.L?

The Country of Origin Labels (COOL) was originally written in 2008 under consumer pressure who wanted safer food and asked for more transparency in how its food is being handled. The result was COOL. A common sense label to protect the public. (Reference 2)

This law required meat to be labelled, the end product was simple: “Product Made in USA” or Product of such and such country. But, this rule was repealed when the World Trade Organization – the organization which is in charge of decisions that can influence “Free Trade”, rendered their decision, saying it was discriminatory to other countries. This was on July 23 2012. It was an unfathomable decision. So, the rules were re-written by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most meat processors continued to label “made in USA” if it was made in the USA while the law was re-written.

Revised COOL

COOL was revised in 2013 and it now reads: “muscle cut meats require labels to specify in sequence, the country where a source animal was born, the country where it was raised, and the country where it was slaughtered.” It is a simple rule and everybody was happy. Or were they?

The Implementation of Revised COOL

The new labeling requirement of COOL went into effect on May 23, 2013. Yea! But there were two lawsuits lawsuit filed in July, 2013, (References 3 & 4) only two months after the law was implemented. Somebody really had to HATE this law. But who? The WTO? No, the WTO can only render a decision about a lawsuit, but they can not initiate a lawsuit (not in its own name anyway). So, then, who is this public enemy who is against safe food?

The Giant Institute Who Doesn’t Want You to Have Safer Meat.

The group that filed the lawsuit, within two months when COOL was implemented, was The American Meat Institute (AMI). The American Meat Institute is a group of the largest meat producers in the United States. AMI represents 95% of all red meat and 70% of all turkey processing. On the (N)AMI Board of Directors (Ref.5) is Hormel; Tyson Chicken, which has processing plants in China, India, Brazil and, (there it is), Mexico (Ref. 6); Cargill Meats; Butterball; JBS; Costco; Omaha Steaks; Harris Ranch; and Smithfield Foods who has just been bought by a Chinese company, plus many others.

So How Does COOL Hurt an American Company?

I mean this is the trick isn’t it, if you are going to file a lawsuit, you have to demonstrate that you are being injured or hampered in some unfair way. So, how does an American Meat Processor say that they are being hurt? Well, they really can’t. But, if you have some brainy million dollar lawyers they can usually figure out something. And they did. They filed two lawsuits, but, in this second lawsuit, AMI used a couple of their peripheral companies, out on the borders of Mexico and Canada (but still within their affiliations) and then named them as the Plaintiffs using the same AMI lawyers. Boo, hiss, stinks to high heaven. That is correct, the American Meat Institute filed the lawsuit to repeal COOL as Canadian and Mexican producers that are being injured.

Of course, one can make the case that Canada has a higher standard than America both in raising cattle and poultry and in processing meat. So, how would labeling meat as “Made in Canada” be injurious to meat from Canada? It wouldn’t. It would be like requiring shoes that are made in Italy to say “Made in Italy” in big letters. But that was the basis of the lawsuit.

The Fake Plaintiffs In an Effort To Repeal COOL

As we know – the American Meat Institute is the main plaintiff trying to repeal the Country of Origin Labels (COOL) (References 3 & 4). But, in order to go through the side door and file as “foreign” interests (Mexico and Canada), AMI found some subsidiaries who fulfilled this criteria. For those of you who don’t care about these details, please fast forward to the next section.

Fake Plaintiff #1  BK Pork is a member of the National Pork Producers Council Iowa affiliate and a close ally of (N)AMI. According to the lawsuit, BK Pork would have to stop raising Canadian pigs in their home state of Iowa.(Reference 3, page 42)  This argument falls apart quickly. First, Iowa is nowhere close to Canada. Supposedly BK Pork imports cows all the way from Canada. How does this agreement make any financial sense to do this, and why would “Made in Canada”hurt them?

Fake Plaintiff #2 is Alpha 3 Cattle Company. Alpha 3 Cattle Co is a member of the National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) -the plaintiff and close friend of (N)AMI. It is a feedyard in Texas that imports 38,000 head of Mexican cattle per year. This is NAMI’s only connection with Mexico (that is not Tyson), that is the sole reason why they are included in the lawsuit. (Reference 3, page 41-42) They are extremely small potatoes, and there are not many American companies that import Mexican cattle. If we dig deeper, we could probably find the reason why this company really exists.

Fake Plaintiff #3 is Agri-beef. This is a ranch in Idaho and that processes its beef in Washington. It is a member of the North American Meat Association (NAMA). (Since the lawsuit was initiated, NAMA has become part of (N)AMI.)  In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue: “Because Washington is a ‘cattle-deficient’ state, Agri-Beef relies heavily on cattle imported from Canada during particular times of the year.”(Reference 3, page 40-41) Wait a minute, the ranch is in Idaho, which is not cattle deficient, and it is not raised in Washington. I am sure this company could get a waiver from the USDA for having their cattle graze in the US for a month. Like I said previously, raised in Canada is “thumbs up” – there is absolutely no downside in labeling it that way.

Overall, the whole lawsuit is laughable but money and special connections can take a lawsuit a long way.

The Courts and The Lawsuit to Repeal COOL

The first court to hear the American Meat Institute to Repeal the Country of Origin Labels was heard at the District Court in Washington, DC. This suit  was defeated  on March 28, 2014 (Ref. 7) Yea!

However, The World Trade Organization (WTO), the ones who overturned the first COOL Law in 2012, upheld the American Meat Institutes lawsuit on October 20, 2014. (Reference 8) The American Meat Institute then lobbied the U.S. Government not to appeal the lawsuit, but they did. No result yet, obviously the WTO can sit on legislation longer than the Supreme Court if it wants.

The Impact of the WTO Decision to Repeal COOL

People were outraged that a good law, COOL, was repealed. But there was a bigger issue that had not really been acknowledged. Here we have an American law for the American people and for the welfare of the American People. It law was upheld by the American courts. But this International Council (the World Trade Organization) says this American law had to be repealed. What authority do they have to repeal an American law? This just magnifies a previous argument of globalization and the Free Trade Agreements – These agreements do not allow for improving safety and quality for advanced countries, but makes all advanced countries “dumb down.” Other poor countries can not match your high standards, therefore you must lower your standards. Maybe you should start putting some E. Coli (bacteria) into your drinking water because it is too clean.

U.S. House of Representatives Move to Repeal COOL

Who cares if 90% of people approve of labeling of meat, let us repeal it. That is exactly what the House of Representatives did. On June 12, 2015 on a vote of 301 (234 Republicans with 66 Democrats) to 131, the House voted to repeal COOL (Reference 9). In criticising the decision: Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the House Ag Committee, was chairman when COOL was reworked in the 2008 farm bill to implement. Peterson criticized the bill for jumping the WTO process. Peterson also directly challenged Canada’s claim of $3 billion in economic losses, which Peterson called “ridiculous.” (For those of you interested the House has 247 GOP, 188 Democrats). So why does the GOP hate COOL, Several reasons – they are pawns to Big Ag (like (N)AMI), they are very libertarian – they don’t like any government regulation that is why they do not pass any laws, and they are very Pro Free Trade. So, if your food is not safe, tough.

Repeal of COOL Expected to Become Law

Obviously, if COOL had been a solitary bill, it would have been vetoed by the President. So, how do you get around the President? How about putting in the giant $1.15 Trillion spending bill? (Reference 10) That is what has happened. It is a smart part of a bill that includes provisions that give permanent tax breaks for the rich.

Big Ag is obviously for the repeal of COOL, but how about small farmers?

Some groups representing smaller U.S. ranchers and farmers, many of whom supported the labeling rule, decried the repeal provision.

“This is a rotten way to do legislation, by attaching these barnacles on the omnibus bills in the dark of the night,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, a Washington, D.C.-based organization. Big Ag trumps small farmers again and again and again.

Insignificant Name Change: AMI becomes NAMI

The American Meat Institute(AMI) changed its official name to The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) in the first half of 2015. Now they can say they represent all of North America when they really do not.

Processed Meat

Processed Meat

Why Big Ag Hates COOL So Much and has Spent millions of dollars to repeal it.

The American Meat Institute wanted to repeal the country of origin for reasons that are not all that obvious. The obvious one would be money, the Meat processors would have to keep better records on where their meat comes from and what parts are used in what product. Then they would have to label it. They already do this. The cost to do this would be about $0.0000001 per pound of meat. What about import taxes placed on American meat by mad Canadians and Mexicans. That is ridiculous, the whole lawsuit is by Americans, that is a true idle threat. So money is not the reason.

Now, the real reason for opposing the Country of Origin labels is actually very nefarious. We know that The North American Meat Institute objects to having to show what meat cuts are in what products – they have always dragged their feet on products like hot dogs, sausage and other blended meat products. But, the true future of meat – the meat processors want the freedom to take any type of meat and blend it all together, they want to take meats from other countries and blend it all together, and they want to start processing meat in other cheaper labor countries with less stringent inspection standards and use this processed meat to mix in with other meats without anybody knowing where any of the meat is from. That is the true goal. We are not so far away from “Soylent Green” are we?

Important Points

  1. The Repeal of the Country of Origin Labels on Meats was not pursued by the governments or businesses of Mexico or Canada (as reported in non-researched newspaper articles) but by The (North)American Meat Institute that processes 95% of all red meat and 70% of turkey.
  2. COOL is a very popular American Law for the welfare of the American people upheld by American courts but it has been repealed by the World Trade Organization – an International Free Trade group which has no authority to repeal American laws.
  3. Free Trade Agreements have caused a decrease of standards of advanced countries in order to allow inferior countries to compete.
  4. The North American Meat Institute wants to mix meats from not only different parts of meats together, but also different meats together and meats from different countries with a future shift to have most meat processed in countries with less stringent regulations and inspections, like China.
  5. The G.O.P. are pawns of Big AG and in the dark of the night have slipped the law to repeal COOL into the giant end of year spending bill.

With The Repeal of COOL Comes the re-Introduction of Mystery Meat

So long COOL, I am going to miss knowing where my meat came from. I hate mystery meat. I am going to be  quite angry when I find out it is coming from foreign sources. I recommend boycotting all meat processed by members of the North American Meat Institute.

References

  1. Food Survey 2014 – 90% of Americans agree with food labeling
  2. Country of Origin Labeling of chicken and Meat from the USDA website/Food Safety and Inspection Services.
  3. Lawsuit: American Meat Institute vs United States Department of Agriculture.
  4. Lawsuit: American Meat Institute and Eight Others vs USDA
  5. North American Meat Institute Board of Directors
  6. Tyson Portfolio
  7. The Hill: DC Circuit Court Rejects challenge of rule of origin of labeling on meats
  8.  The Official Decision: World Trade Organization Rejects United States – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements. 10/20/2014 206 pages.
  9. US Representatives Repeal COOL
  10. Spending Bill Eliminates Rule for Labels Specifying Meat’s Country of Origin
  11. Say Good-Bye to ‘COOL’: Congress Repeals Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Rule 12/20/2015 another look at the repeal of COOL

 

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24
Jul
15

Is Tyson Having Chicken Processed in China and Selling it to the USA?

There has been a heated Facebook discussion about the USA allowing American chickens to be processed in China – and this “processed chicken from China” does not need to be labeled as such. This has sparked outrage (delayed – as this became law in 2013 see Chinese Chicken Processors are Cleared for U.S. Imports – NY Times). Some have suggested that Tyson is sending their chickens to China to be processed into small chicken nuggests and sent back to the U.S. to be sold. The outrage has become so loud that even Tyson has publicly come out and said that this is all a hoax:

On July 14, 2015, Tyson Foods came out with this Facebook post:
There is a post going around Facebook suggesting we are planning to ship chicken to China for processing to be returned to the U.S. for sale, eliminating thousands of jobs in the process. This is a hoax, and nothing suggested in the post is true. For more information click here http://www.tysonfoods.com/…/China%20Poultry%20Exports%20to%…

So What is the Truth? Does Tyson Plan to Process U.S. Chickens in China?

If you want a very brief answer – skip to the conclusion. If you want to know about the circumstances, please read below.

Before we can answer the question of whether Tyson plans to process poultry in China ,we first need to evaluate the history of the law that was passed to allow U.S. poultry to be processed in China.

In order to be able to process chicken in China, it meant that somebody (China) had to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)(notation corrected 7/26/15)  to certify that that China was “equivalent” in processing to the United States. This happened in 2004 when China lobbied the U.S. to process chicken (as well as to slaughter chicken and handle raw chicken – both of which have not been approved as of yet.) China received permission, in November 2005, when a branch of the USDA, the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS), passed the law allowing processing of chicken in China even though no “equivalent” processing plants were specifically approved. Following FSIS passing this law (still unfinalized), there was a two month period of final comments from Congress. Some people who received leaked news of this law, violently protested. But the law was finalized in 2006. However, the criticisms of the law raised the ire of many in Congress which then refused to fund this law from 2006 to 2009.

Revenge By China

China, which was happy to finally acquire “equivalent” processing, was not amused that Congress would not let them process poultry from the United States (by de-funding the project). Also, unhappy were major American corporations like Cargill, Tyson, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Yum! Brands which had strong financial interest in exploiting the burgeoning Chinese poultry markets. Many of the companies already had large financial stakes and favorable contracts in the Chinese Markets.
China retaliated by raising import tariffs on U.S. poultry by 43%, up to 104.5%. The result: a 90% decrease in “broiler” chicken imports from the U.S. In another case of retaliation, in 2003, China and several other countries banned U.S. beef, because of a single case of “Mad Cow” disease found in Yakima, Washington. Every other country has lifted the U.S. beef ban except China.
China then went running to their old-time friend, the World Trade Organization, to sue the United States. China contended that Congress’s inaction was costing them money. The WTO agreed. And funding was restored to the law and U.S. poultry could legally be processed in China on August 30, 2013. And even though all USDA audits demonstrated that Chinese processing plants were inadequate, still four plants were approved. (The U.S. government currently allows Canada, Chile, France and Israel to export processed poultry to the U.S.). Only mild outrage followed the back page story that announced this controversial law was active.
The Tyson Story
Since Tyson has gone to great lengths to deny they are processing U.S. poultry in China, let us put a spotlight on some of the ties between Tyson and China: (From the 2012 Tyson Holdings) Tyson Foods has had a presence in China since 2001 and currently has three poultry operations in different provences in the country: Tyson DaLong, Tyson Shandong (which comprises three slaughter facilities and employs 7,000 people) and Tyson Nantong. Tyson also has processing facilities in India, Brazil and Mexico.
Possible Evidence of Tyson Importing Chicken into the U.S.
Tyson plans to import poultry into the US from its plant in Mexico. In its Tyson’s Holdings Fact Book 2012, regarding its Mexico plants: ” From our Mexico facilities, we export chicken to Vietnam and Guatemala, and we expect to achieve our first exports to the United States and Africa in the near future”.
Possible Evidence of Tyson Importing Beef into the U.S.
Tyson plans to import beef into the U.S. from Brazil. Tyson has plants in Brazil to process chicken and beef. Tyson, is very smart, by having a plant in Brazil, they can ship poultry to Europe, while U.S. poultry is still banned in Europe. Just this week, the USDA has allowed the imports of beef from Brazil and Argentina into the United States. Coincidence, I think not.
Other Evidence – Only Tyson Lobbies the USDA for market access for chicken in China 
According to Newsweek: In 2013, in the months before the USDA approved the four Chinese plants to process chickens for the U.S. market, of the country’s four major chicken companies—Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms—only Tyson lobbied the USDA for “market access for chicken to China” (and other countries). Neither the National Chicken Council nor the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association put any money toward the cause.
Tyson’s Argument that They will Not Be Importing Chicken processed in China Back to the USA

Tyson says they are not planning on processing U.S. poultry in China. They don’t have to say why, but they are playing the money card. Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in a recent Houston Chronicle article about our petition:

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” Super said. “Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the United States, pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

Rebuttal to Tyson’s Argument That Poultry Is Too Expensive to Process in China
There are good precedents about processing U.S. food in China. Salmon and Dungeness Crab caught on the West Coast are shipped to China to be processed and then are shipped back to the USA according to The Huffington Post. The reason why companies do this? Because it is cheaper in China to pay workers, wages are less and Chinese workers usually have no benefits. Factories have minimal health and safety standards. So, why not process poultry in China? Why would Tyson lobby the USDA to get processing US chicken in China approved? Why would China want to process U.S. poultry if it wasn’t economically feasible?
Rebuttal To The Rebuttal
Some think that Tyson’s lobbying the USDA to allow China process U.S. poultry may have been purely political. That it was done to get favor from China, so that China would ultimately allow U.S. meat back into their country. Tyson, also, at the same time, made an enemy of China, when they took China to the WTO court and had those extremely high tariffs on U.S. poultry repealed in 2013.
The Real Reasons
If you had to look at this issue, you might say why would Tyson go to all this trouble, spend millions and millions of dollars to have U.S. poultry processed in China. This venture could be profitable yes, but to the point of recuperating these millions already spent? Maybe, but it would take many years. Mega-corporations have been known to play the long game. And this is exactly the case. The long game is not just “Processing” U.S. poultry in China and then ship it back to the U.S. No, the ultimate goal of Tyson is to process not only poultry, but also beef and pork in China (and other countries) and ship it to all countries. And the only way that this becomes possible is through two methods. First, if Tyson can give the impression that all of exported China’s poultry and beef are safe -by  continuing to lobby the USDA – this would then allow all poultry and meat from China into the USA.
Second, Tyson needs to repeal the Country of Origin Labeling (C.O.O.L.) law written by the USA. And surprise, this is already done. Tyson which is part of the American Meat Institute sued the USDA through the World Trade Organization Court and had this law repealed. For the stunning details of the lawsuits and the repeal of COOL, see my expose: US Appeals WTO Ruling against National Meat Labels.
Once Tyson has achieved both of these goals, then Tyson can co-mix cuts of meats, they can co-mix different types of meats, they can co-mix meats from any nation, and none of it will be labelled. Then Tyson can make big profits. That is their real strategy.
Conclusion
Tyson has been instrumental in helping China get the status of being “equivalent” to the USA in processing poultry and therefore, China can now legally process U.S. Chicken into the U.S. And restaurants that serve this China-processed chicken do not have to label this food as being from China. So, has Tyson started sending its US poultry to China to be processed since they already have three processing plants in China? The answer appears to be no, thus far. Will it do so in the future? Yes, that is there plan. Will it happen in two years, ten years or twenty years, that is the open question. Tyson and the American Meat Institute (now called the North American Meat Institute since 2015) have clearly demonstarted that they want no meat to labeled so they can ultimately package any combination of meat products together and from any country they select – to maximize profits.
As far as the cutting of jobs, Tyson has already closed numerous poultry plants in the USA over the past six years. We do not know when the next U.S. processing plant will be closed, while we do know their international plants continue to grow.
So, is Tyson evil? The answer: Tyson is a multi-national mega-corporation that wants to dominate all aspects of poultry and meat.
References:
For the best official reference about the Chicken processing in China case see: Country of Origin Labeling Revisited: Processed Chicken from China and the USDA Processed Foods Exception, from the Minnesota Judicial Law, Science and Technology by Daniel Schueppart.
15
Mar
15

US Appeals WTO Ruling Against National Meat Labels – New York Times

US Appeals WTO Ruling Against National Meat Labels – NYTimes November 28, 2014

If you knew all the facts in this case, it would cause your blood to boil. However, if you read the story in the newspaper you would probably have ignored it. Below is the story that some of you may have heard briefly, but it is one of the biggest ever battles between the World Trade Organization (WTO) versus the United States. This is a case of multi-national corporations (which control the WTO) trying to over-rule common sense food safety measures meant to protect U.S. citizens. First, read the very lame story from the major media centers which is meant to bore and misinform the public. At the end of the story, I will give you the background of the story and who the real players are (they are not Mexican and Canadian ranchers).

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The News Story: US Appeals WTO Ruling Against National Meat Labels (Associate Press)

WASHINGTON — The United States is appealing a World Trade Organization decision that would make it harder for U.S. consumers to know where meat in the grocery store came from.

The WTO in October rejected U.S. rules requiring labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat identifying where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO said the “country of origin labeling” requirements put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage.

On Friday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative appealed the ruling.

U.S. farmers who compete with Mexican and Canadian ranchers welcomed the appeal. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson on Friday called it “the right thing to do for American family farmers, ranchers and consumers.” But meatpackers oppose the labeling requirements, saying they impose costly paperwork.

Originally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed the labels to say simply “Product of U.S.” or “Product of U.S. and Canada.” The WTO rejected that approach in 2012.

So USDA made the labels more specific in an attempt to win WTO approval. For example, they can say the animal that produced the meat was “born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States” or “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” But in October, the WTO also rejected the revised rules.

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The Background of the Story of Labeling Meats

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from concerned citizens (like you and me) wanted more transparency in how our food is handled and started to pass regulations to improve this objective. Obviously, the US has a long way to go in this respect, like did you know that it is illegal to film activity at a slaughterhouse? Reporting about conditions at slaughterhouses or chicken processing plants will get you in the same place that a Chinese citizen gets when complaining about their Communist government. Be that as it may, people from America do trust food more if it is grown and/or processed in the United States. The law written in 2008, was called the Country of Origin Law (COOL). Meat had to be labelled if it was a Product of the USA, versus product of Canada or China or anywhere else. Common sense labeling right? No problem right?

Not so fast. In an unfathomable decision, the World Trade Organization said that this law was discriminatory to other nations. The WTO said this is initially in 2011, and then re-affirmed their decision on July 23, 2012.

Rewriting C.O.O.L. and allowing China to process American chickens

So, the USDA went back to the drawing board and re-wrote the COOL requirements. This rule reads: muscle cut meats require labels to specify in sequence, the country where a source animal was born, the country where it was raised, and the country where it was slaughtered. (If you noticed, it does not specify in which country where the meat is processed – in 2013, the USDA allowed China to process U.S. chickens without the need for labeling. Ref.:1,2,3,4,5,6). This is a big story in itself.

The new COOL requirement took effect on May 23, 2013. Almost immediately, a lawsuit was filed by the American Meat Institute (Ref. 7) and the American Meat Institute and eight other plaintiffs (Ref. 8) against the USDA on July 25, 2013 and July 8, 2013, respectively.

One incidental note: The American Meat Institute just this year 2015 has merged with another organization called NAMA – the North American Meat Association to form The North American Meat Institute (NAMI). So, it is even bigger now.

This suit from the American Meat Institute was initially defeated within the U.S. in the DC District Court on March 28, 2014 (Ref. 9). However, the World Trade Organization once again ruled in favor of the American Meat Institute to overturn the labeling requirement on October 20,2014. (Ref. 10). When the WTO overruled the USDA, Big AG was extremely happy and tried to sway the U.S. government into not appealing. But the U.S. did appeal – see the top story. So, here we are at the crossroads, are we supporting common sense food safety legislation which has made rules for the safety of our citizens or do we support the big-moneyed WTO?  The WTO which would rather strip all laws from every country because it has a vested interest in trying to get all food processed in third world countries with absolutely minimal oversight or safety requirements? (I mean we already do this with textiles [clothes] and hard goods [everything else not food]. The question becomes what is the most important thing in the world? Is it safety with common sense food safety laws or is it about solely making more money for the largest corporations while decreasing our standards in the process?)

The Real Players

If you read the press releases that are spouted of as news, you would think that the ones filing the lawsuit are the small ranchers in Mexico and Canada. Just for the sake of argument, say you are a Canadian rancher, and your beef is labelled as being “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in Canada.” Canada has even higher standards than the United States. How in the hell would that be a detriment to Canadian raised beef?!  It would be like if you made clothing in Italy, would your brand be cheapened by labeling it “Made in Italy”?

In the AP news – repeated in 100 different newspapers, word for word, there is not one mention of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI nor AMI) who filed the suit. The North American Meat Institute is Big AG incarnate. NAMI represents 95% of all red meat and 70% of all turkey processing. On the NAMI Board of Directors (Ref.11) is Hormel; Tyson Chicken, which has processing plants in China, India, Brazil and, there it is, Mexico (Ref. 12); Cargill Meats; Butterball; JBS; and Smithfield Foods who has just been bought by a Chinese company (Ref. 13). Now do you believe that allowing the Chinese to process chicken for Americans to eat and not even have that detail labelled is just a coincidence? Of course not, somebody in the USDA got paid off with a nice little gift. This big money American system that runs our entire country is truly corrupt. Americans, however, don’t recognize this, unlike the outsiders that wonder why Americans don’t recognize this widespread corruption and just revolt.

Who Are The Fake Players?

The small Canadian and Mexican ranchers are supposedly the ones being hurt. Now let us be serious, since when in the world has the WTO ever cared or ever ruled in favor of a very small company? Never. They would never get the time of day with the WTO. The reason, small companies don’t have any weight with the WTO, is they lack money and/or influence. Also, the  small companies are not taken seriously by the WTO because they are directly competing against the giant corporations that are part of the WTO. To file a suit with the WTO, you need big money and lots of power. So to mention these fake players is really moot. But, in this particular suit, there is a listing of 8 different plaintiffs  which are meat processing and packing trade groups , but with them is the “Goliath”, the American Meat Institute (AMI) now called NAMI. Let us look at a couple of the companies named in the lawsuit and how they are supposedly affected.

The fake players are three small companies within the 8 meat processing and packing trade groups who are part of the lawsuit that have sued the USDA to not label meat. Because of their quirky business practices, they were pulled out as examples of how Canada and Mexico ranchers and processors could possibly be injured if meat were “labelled”. 99.99% of the meat represented by the plaintiffs of the lawsuit is all-American, it doesn’t make sense that these fake players who make-up 0.01% should get any say in these court cases.

First, let us look at BK Pork. BK Pork is a member of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Iowa affiliate (close ally of NAMI and the actual plaintiff). Supposedly from COOL regulations, BK Pork would have to stop raising Canadian Pigs in their home state of Iowa. (For those of you who don’t know U.S. geography, Iowa is not right next to Canada. Plus, I don’t see the sense in why they import cows all the way from Canada). The WTO really cares about this issue?

Second, there is Alpha 3 Cattle Company. Alpha 3 Cattle Co is a member of the National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) -the plaintiff and close friend of NAMI. It is a feedyard in Texas that imports 38,000 head of Mexican cattle per year. This is NAMI’s only connection with Mexico that is not Tyson, that is the sole reason they are included in the lawsuit. They are extremely small potatoes, and there are not many American companies that import Mexican cattle. If we dig deeper, we could probably find the reason why this company really exists.

Third is Agri-beef. This is a ranch in Idaho and that processes its beef in Washington. It is a member of the North American Meat Association (NAMA, previously the National Meat Association [NMA]). NAMA is the plaintiff (as mentioned, before NAMA merged with AMI and now is the supercolossus NAMI). In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say “Because Washington is a ‘cattle-deficient’ state, Agri-Beef relies heavily on cattle imported from Canada during particular times of the year.” Wait a minute, the ranch is in Idaho, which is not cattle deficient, and not raised in Washington. I am sure this company could get a waiver from the USDA for having their cattle in the US for a month. Like I said previously, raised in Canada is “thumbs up” – there is absolutely no downside in labeling it that way.

Evaluating the Lawsuit

When you see the voluminous lawsuit, you think they might have a case. But when you read around the baloney and do your due diligence which clearly the World Trade Organization did not do, you can see this decision smells as bad as Harris Ranch. Some of their arguments are ridiculous like this one in showing damages (on page 48 of the lawsuit Ref. 14): “RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co, vs FDA 823 F Supp.2d 36 50-51 (D.D.C 2011) finding “more than a sufficient showing of irreparable harm in tobacco companies First Amendment challenge to graphic warning requirement.” That is your argument that “Made in Canada” is a bad as skull and cross bones on cigarette packages?!!. Please!

And then you realize, there is no Canada or Mexico involved in this lawsuit at all. It is Big U.S. Ag and company. Strip away the B.S. and you can see this is just a plain old powerplay (only about money and power). The big question is this: why should we listen to the WTO, an international organization over a totally LOCAL issue? Get your over-reaching hands out of our business.

Going Forward

The U.S. consumer needs to support the USDA in their appeal and its labeling requirements against Big Ag. The reason why Big Ag is against labeling, is more than just money, which is really not very significant in their multi-billion dollar industry, but it is their plans to process all meat internationally in the near future. This means they need the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP – the secret Free Trade agreement like NAFTA) to pass and eliminate all labeling with the help of their lackey – the WTO – the destructive organization which has made higher standards obsolete. The WTO’s ultimate goal is to bring the U.S. down to the same extremely low standards as the least civilized of nations (called the least common denominator argument). Big Ag’s ultimate goal is to create meat products from all different types of meat, from all different cuts and from all different countries without being labelled. The American Meat Institute doesn’t want to let you know if you are eating beef, rat, dog or horse. (Ref 15). Or worse -remember the movie Soylent Green (Ref 16) – now that didn’t need to be labelled.

Stop the corporate power grab. Stop the WTO from repealing country of origin labeling (C.O.O.L.) and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal. The WTO is anti-COOL.

References

1. Chinese Chicken Processors Are Cleared to Ship to U.S. NY Times 8/30/13.

2. Chicken Processed in China Triggers U.S. Food Safety Protests. Bloomberg News 9/26/13.

3. The Curious Case of the Chinese Chicken Import-Export Business. Newsweek 9/25/14. Who lobbied for this law? Tyson, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Pilgrim, and JBS.

4. Chicken From China? Why You Should Be Worried. Huffington Post 3/14/15

5. China Sneaks Its Chicken in on Man’s Best Friend, Food and Water Watch. Tony Corbo 7/27/12.

6. Official Announcement: USDA declares that its Food and Safety Inspection Service has approved poultry processing in China. 8/30/13

7. Lawsuit: American Meat Institute, et al v. United States Department of Agriculture. The actual lawsuit, 55 pages, filed 7/25/13.

8. Lawsuit: American Meat Institute and eight other plaintiffs v. USDA. 23 pages. filed 7/08/13.

9. DC Circuit Court Rejects Challenge to rule of Origin Labels on Meats. The Hill 3/28/14.

10. The Official Decision: World Trade Organization Rejects United States – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements. 10/20/2014 206 pages.

11. North America Meat Institute Board of Directors, meatinstitute.org, formerly the American Meat Institute until it merged with The North American Meat Association, see history.

12. Tyson Chicken Portfolio. Page 19 shows its International holdings and factories.

13. Smithfield Foods Closes Sale to China’s Shuanghui. Richmond Times-Dispatch 9/27/13.

14. Lawsuit, page 48.

15. Slaughterhouse Boss Admits Charges Over U.K. Horsemeat Scandal. The Guardian 2015

16. Soylent Green 1973 futuristic movie based in the year 2022. Overrcrowding and the greenhouse effect have caused food shortages. Soylent Green is the new food that helps alleviate the problem until at the end that this is made from humans.

For additional reading reference check out: Country of Origin Labeling Revisited: Processed Chicken from China and the USDA Processed Foods Exception. Minn. J. L. Sci. & Tech. 28 pages of background and the politics of the exception to allow China to process chicken without having to label it.

26
Oct
14

WTO Rejects US Country-of-Origin Labels for Meat – ABC News

WTO Rejects US Country-of-Origin Labels for Meat – ABC News. The World Trade Organization has just eliminated a popular labeling requirements for meat. This is actually important news that nobody has paid any attention to.Since this story can be dull with its full details and too important just to rant about, I will try to make the story more interesting.

The Scene

It is 1967, on the set of  the TV show “Batman”, in the Bat Cave, Robin (played by Burt Ward) is sitting in a chair reading the newspaper, Batman (played by Adam West) is looking at the blinking lights of his Bat computer.

Robin: “Gadzooks, Batman! Did you see this story?! The World Trade Organization is repealing labeling requirements on meat!!”

Batman: “I am sorry, Robin, I failed to notice that, like 99% of God-fearing Americans.”

Robin: “It says here that they won’t even let you know where the meat originated, where it was raised or where it was processed.”

Batman (with a puzzled look): “Let me see that newspaper.” He takes the paper from Robin and starts to peruse it,”Hmmm… uh-huh, I see. It says they won’t permit the labeling because it would hurt Canadian and Mexican ranchers.”

Robin: “But, Batman, if the meat says it is from Canada – How does that hurt Canadian ranchers??! They have great meat, better land for grazing, less artificial supplements, good processing, in fact, I think it would be a benefit to sales if it said it was from Canada!”

Batman: “You’re right, Robin! It’s like saying  they are losing money because they have to label their shoes “Made in Italy”.  This is very puzzling.” Batman walks over to the Bat computer and starts pushing some buttons :  “Let us input everything we know about the World Trade Organization and find out who is behind it and what they are doing.”

The Bat computer whirrs into action and a few seconds later a punched-out computer card is ejected from the computer. It simply says: WTO.

Batman and Robin study the computer card closely. Then, Batman takes out a magnifying glass and examines the card: “Robin, look at this “W”, it looks like it is made out of question marks, WTO looks like Who? But it could just as easily mean What? or Where?”

Robin: “Obviously this is the work of the Riddler!”

Batman: Precisely, Robin. Now, the “T”. The T is supposed to stand for “Trade”.

Robin: “Like in Free Trade. But there is no Free Trade, somebody is always paying. Free Trade is a joke! That’s it. The Joker!!”

Batman: “Exactly. And look at this “O”. That is not an ordinary O. It is shaped more like an egg. And didn’t this group just approve processing of chickens in China…and suppress any labeling about it?”

Robin: “Holy Chicken flavored poison. China is processing our chickens?!! With their poor food safety record?!! And  weren’t they the ones that poisoned American dogs with their chicken jerky!”

Batman: “The egg shaped ‘O”, the Chinese chicken processing – this is the work of only one man…”

Robin: “Egghead! So, all of the master villians are running the World Trade Organization”.

Batman: “That’s right Robin. We need to get to Gotham City and warn the commissioner.”
They both jump into the Batmobile, tires screeching and bulleting out of the Batcave.

 

Scene II

At the office of Commissioner Gordon, Batman and Robin enter the room. Batman starts: “Commissioner Gordon, we have reason to believe that there is a plot by the World Trade Organization to repeal food safety standards.”

Robin: “And it’s all run by villians!”

Gordon: “Regarding the World Trade Organization, I know they are controlled by some of the biggest corporations in the world and their purpose is to eliminate anything that interferes with trading between countries, whether it is higher safety standards, doing business with highly oppressive governments or encouraging children to work in factories, as long as they get their maximum profits, but I won’t call them villans”.

Robin: “I had to disagree, Commissioner, but I would.”

Batman: “So, what the World Trade Organization is doing is, instead of raising the bar and making things safer and making working environments better, they are, in fact, lowering the ceiling, making everybody conform to the lowest standards possible.”

Robin: “Holy slave labor camps! You’re right, Batman! They must be stopped now!”

Gordon: “Now, now, Boy Wonder. Before you do anything rash, you must realize that many people here in Gotham City are profiting greatly from the World Trade Organization. And stopping them may cause many people in Gotham City may lose a lot of money. People like the Mayor, and the Governor, and prominent citizens, like Bruce Wayne.”

Batman: “The Commissioner is right, Robin.”

Robin:”But!”

Batman: “We mus’nt be hasty. First, I will need to change my portfolio.” Batman starts to leave the room. He signals the Commissioner to walk with him. They exit the room together. Batman says in a low voice: “What do you mean many people may lose a lot of money?” They exit.

Robin is left alone in the room. He moves to the commissioner’s desk, finds the large, black rotary telephone. He picks up the receiver and dials zero: “Operator, could you get me the number of Sherlock Holmes?”

 

End of Scene II End Part I

 

The Following Video From Whole Foods is exactly what the World Trade Organization is against.

 

 

 

This is a great link about the WTO story: World Trade Organization Rules Against Popular U.S. Country-of-Origian Meat Labels on Which Consumers Rely by Public Citizen.

Another story mentioned above: Chinese Chicken Processors Are Cleared To Ship to US by NY Times.

Stayed tuned for Part II, Coming very soon.

 




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