Call for Substantial Changes to Resolve M-COOL Dispute

CANADA & US - The president of Paragon Economics suggests a return to the principle of substantial transformation as the most appropriate solution to the dispute over US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (M-COOL), writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 12 September 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Last month, Canada requested the establishment of a World Trade Organization compliance panel to determine whether changes to US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling announced in May bring the United States into compliance with its international trade obligations.

A ruling in Canada's favour will open the door to the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on US products imported into Canada.

Dr Steve Meyer, the president of Paragon Economics, says if anything the changes made the labelling regime more onerous on imported animals.

Dr Steve Meyer-Paragon Economics:

The mainstream of the US beef and pork industries have been opposed to Mandatory Country of Origin Labels since the beginning.

There are elements in both groups that obviously favor it and they're located in states where the senators are more active, mainly the north central states and that's one of the reasons we have it.

We've stayed pretty united, the producer groups in the United States of opposing this. We're still opposed to it.

We still think this newest rule is a bad rule but the problem is we don't know that you can write a rule that goes with the law that's going to satisfy WTO and so the law itself needs to be changed.

We need to go back to the principle of substantial transformation which has always applied to these kind of situations in the past and that way a product from a pig that is born in Canada, fed in the United States and slaughtered in the United States will be a product and the United States and rightfully so.

There's only 10 or 12 pounds of that product that was actually in Canada.

On a market hog the same would be true because it would be substantially transformed from the live hog into pork.

That would be the best situation. I don't know if that's possible. Once you get a law passed it's pretty hard to change it vey much.

Dr Meyer notes US consumers have indicated Country of Origin Labelling is not a high priority and even those who say they would like to know where the food comes from are not willing to pay extra for it.

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