After the international spread of Mad Cow Disease terrified everyone in the early 2000s, Congress passed a law requiring labels on pork and red meat to let consumers know which country it originated from. But now, thanks to pressure from the meatpacking industry, that law has been repealed -- which means that we'll soon have no way of knowing where our meat comes from.
According to a report from AP, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the laws requiring packaged meat labels to include details like, "born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States" or "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States."
The report goes on to explain that the meatpacking industries in Canada and Mexico had spent years challenging the law, and that the WTO recently refused all appeals by the U.S. and authorized those nations "to begin more than $1 billion in economic retaliation against the United States" if Congress didn't allow them to stop informing consumers about where their meat originated from. Now that the law has been repealed, the U.S. government will have to stop requiring the labels "immediately."
Consumer groups were in favor of the labels since they allowed people to make informed purchases and specifically choose to buy locally-raised meat. Activists who are critical of the WTO have long argued that the organization undermines worker, environmental and consumer rights -- like the right to know where our food comes from -- by prioritizing free trade over virtually all other concerns.
An advocacy group called Food and Water Watch also ranted to the AP, calling the repeal of the bill "a holiday gift to the meatpacking industry from Congress."