There‚ a party going on at the World Trade Organization, and as is usually the case with the WTO, youre not invited. This party is about getting rid of laws that keep our oceans clean and our food safe. It‚ called the Working Party on Domestic Regulations, and they are working fast and furious to eliminate the laws designed to keep us safe and in-the-know.
This free-for-all attack on domestic laws is part of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS for short. In terms of seafood, this includes laws governing fishing, fish farming, food processing, labeling, storage, transport and even restaurant sanitation.
When the party‚ over, countries could be required to prove that their own laws are ‚no more burdensome than necessary.” 1 You may ask, why would countries have to prove anything before passing national laws to protect their own people and natural resources? Wed like to know that too.
Imagine this: A restaurant chain in China wants to open up a branch in Seattle, Washington. Theyre accustomed to following Chinese sanitation procedures. It could be very ‚burdensome” for the Seattle branch to meet U.S. public health standards. In fact, it might be so burdensome that they would rather challenge our domestic law, rather than abide by our rules. Unfortunately, it will be a small panel of unelected and unaccountable WTO judges who will decide whether or not these U.S. laws are too ‚burdensome.”
WTO judges are notorious for ruling against consumer safeguards and environmental protections. They sided against the Marine Mammal Protection Act‚ dolphin-safe tuna and the Endangered Species Act‚ protection of sea turtles.