Country Of Origin Labeling – or COOL for short – shouldn’t be controversial. Any farmer can tell you that the United States tightly regulates pesticide use, and other countries do not. This makes our food safer, but gives food from other countries at a competitive advantage because they can use more powerful chemicals to grow food cheaper.
For that reason alone it is unfair to our growers to not label the country of origin. Our growers are regulated better than elsewhere, and they deserve our support for assuring we have safe food to eat. It’s unfair to our growers to not label the country of origin.
It’s equally unfair to the consumer. As a consumer, I demand the right to know where my food was grown or processed, and to decide for myself whether or not to buy foreign food. I absolutely do not want food that was grown or processed outside the US. It is my right and yours to know where our food is grown and processed.
However, it seems some people don’t agree with that. Canada opposed the US requirement to label beef and pork, threatened a trade war, and went to the World Trade Organization to complain. They agreed, and told the US we were discriminating against Canada with country of origin labels. As a result, The US House of Representatives voted to remove COOL requirements for meat. Jim Costa, among others, supported the removal, saying that COOL has nothing to do with food safety.
This is amazing on so many levels. First is, how is it discriminatory to identify where a cow was born and raised? Second, are we really going to change a United States law at the demand of the WTO? Third, do you really think COOL has nothing to do with food safety? And, if we loose COOL on beef, what else will we loose the right to know?
Mr. Costa, our farmers deserve Country of Origin Labels. But also, I demand the right to know where my food comes from. Don’t take that right away.
Previously published in the Western View from AgNet West, April 2015.