Weekend Roundup: COOL Appeal

Higher Ground to be performed in Richmond • COOL appealed in WTO • What is it with young people and cars? • Nobody keeps track of oil and gas pipelines

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The United States will appeal a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found a U.S. law on meat labeling to violate international trade rules. 

Canada and Mexico had challenged a U.S. law that required meat to carry a label showing its country of orgin. The WTO agreed that country of original labeling (COOL) requirements violated world trade rules. The ruling only affected meats, though the COOL law covers a wide range of foods.

“We are heartened that the Obama administration has finally stood up against the meat industry’s attack on common-sense rules that let people get vital information about what they are eating,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. 

“The WTO’s November ruling that some provisions of the U.S. law on mandatory country of origin labeling were barriers to trade made it clear once again that the WTO serves global corporate agribusiness interests, not consumers and farmers. Most Americans do not think that an unelected, unaccountable international trade body should get to decide what U.S. consumers can know about their food. Geneva trade bureaucrats have no business meddling in American grocery carts and should not be able to undermine rules put in place by U.S. elected officials.”

Canada and Mexico argued that the label acted as a barrier to international trade.

• Water shortages worldwide “increase the likelihood that water will be used as a weapon between states or to further terrorists aims in key strategic areas,” the Washington Post writes of a new U.S. intelligence assessment. 

• Contrary to an earlier report in the New York Times, federal ag officials will not require environmental reviews before issuing mortgages to people who have leased their land for oil and gas development. 

The Times had earlier reported that the USDA was considering a requirement that would have necessitated a lengthy environmental study before issuing federally-backed mortgages on land leased for drilling. We repeat, that ain’t gonna happen. 

• A federal court Thursday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to follow through on a 35-year old proposal that certain antibiotics be banned from use in animal feed because they could help develop drug-reistant bacteria. 

The FDA first considered banning the use of penicillin and tetracycline to help speed the growth of farm animals, but the proposal has been in limbo. Several groups filed suit in May 2011 to require the FDA to act.

A federal district court in Manhattan ruled that the FDA should press ahead with its initial plan to start proceedings that could eventually lead to the ban.

• We learn from the New York Times that young people have a decreasing interest in automobiles

In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years or younger had a drivers’ license. It was 64.4 percent in 1998.

Forty-six percent of drivers 18 to 24 would rather have broadband access than a car. 

• An interesting race is the 4th District Congressional contest in Iowa, pitting incumbent Rep. Steve King (Republican) against Christie Vilsack, former Iowa First Lady and wife of the current Secretary of Agriculture . 

King has never before debated an opponent — but this week he asked Vilsack if she would agree to six debates before the November election. Vilsack said she’d think about it.

That tells the Yonder it’s a close contest. 

• A federal audit finds that officials “know nothing about thousands of miles of pipelines that carry natural gas released through the drilling method known as fracking, and need to step up oversight to make sure they are running safely,” the AP reports

The report, issued by the Government Accountability Office, said there are 240,000 miles of gas and oil pipelines; many of them are not regulated by the federal government and are not regularly inspected. In some states, officials don’t know where the lines exist.

 

 

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