Canadian officials doubt success of U.S. COOL appeal

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Several industry players say the World Trade Organization, which is adjudicating the dispute over U.S. Country of Origin labelling policy, is unlikely to overturn its past findings

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While Canadian officials may have trade law on their side and, therefore, might win this particular WTO "battle", they've long-since lost the Country of Origin labelling law war because they're on the wrong side of US consumers, and understandably so.

Consumers on both sides of the border want more information, not less, even when they don't understand it.

For example, as reported by the New York Times in 2013, a poll done by Professor Jason Lusk of Oklahoma State University showed:

(1) 82% of respondents supported mandatory labels on foods produced with genetic engineering.
(2) 80% of respondents supported government requirements for labels informing consumers that their food contains DNA, the naturally occuring amino acids that are the basic chemical building blocks of life.
(3) 86% of repondents also favored labels identifying the country of origin for meat products.

The survey results show two basic things:

(A) the respondents weren't particularly science literate
(B) people want choice.

Ag Minister Ritz and the Canadian livestock sector don't seem to understand that consumers (and voters) are not overly-rational thinkers and make up their minds about something by using powerful instincts and emotions - it may not be the smartest way to make choices, but that's the way it is.

For example, while picking up a small steak for supper tonight ($26.43/kg with no country of origin identified) I decided to also buy a small jar of gherkin pickles. I had a choice of a no-name 375 ml. jar from India at $1.99 or an identical-sized jar of Bick's pickles from the US (there was nothing grown in Canada) for about $3.99. Even though it may not have been a rational decision on my part, I chose the pickles from the US and am, not just like 86% of US consumers decidedly in favour of country of origin labelling for meats, but also in favour of country of origin labelling for everything.

I can't help get the feeling that none of the Canadians fighting for the repeal of COOL spend much, if any, time shopping for food in Canada, and as a result, have no understanding of consumer behaviour at all.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

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