Import Bans on Animal Welfare Grounds - Protectionism or Genuine Concern?
Tourists visiting Seattle last December, during riots sparked by the World Trade Organization summit, might have asked the eco-protestors rampaging through the city what all the fuss was about. If they had, they would probably have been told that WTO rules prevented governments from banning imports of foodstuffs that were produced through unnecessary cruelty to animals or fish.They would have cited a WTO case which had been lost by the US government, which had tried to ban the import of shrimps from the Indian Ocean, on the ground that the fishermen there generally killed rare marine turtles when setting their nets. The disputes panel had told the USA that it could not ban imports of a product that was also produced in America on moral grounds, the protesters would have claimed. Unfortunately they were ill-informed.Indeed, British agriculture minister Elliot Morley - who attended an RSPCA conference last week and announced that the Government was considering making capital grants to farmers for projects boosting livestock welfare - would have done well to stay for the whole of the programme.
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