Are method of production labels WTO compliant? Open debate at the WTO Public Forum 2019


Are method of production labels WTO compliant? Open debate at the WTO Public Forum 2019

6 September 2019
For the second year in a row, the WTO Public Forum will host an event co-organised by Eurogroup for Animals and its members. This year, it will focus on how a method of production labeling system can help foster trade in more sustainable products.

Each year, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) holds its Public Forum, a large annual event made of a series of workshops and working sessions on a common theme. The aim is to provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss trade-related issues and the forum attracts regularly over 1,500 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, governments, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations.

The WTO Public Forum 2019 will take place in Geneva on 8-11 October and this year’s theme is “Trading Forward: Adapting to a Changing World”, with three sub-themes:

  • services – the next trade frontier;
  • the next generation – what do Millennials & Gen Z want to see from global trade; 
  • the next chapter of the WTO – strengthening the trading system.

In that context, Eurogroup for Animals applied jointly with the RSPCA, as well as other members supporting the Trade & Animal Welfare Project (Dierenbescherming, Four Paws, Djurens Rätt and  Deutscher Tierschutzbund) to hold the workshop “Labeling in support of sustainable trade: The Central Role of WTO in Responding to Young Consumers’ Demands.” Our session will take place on Friday 11 October from 10:15 am to 11:45 am, and registrations are open here until 16 September. 

Generation Z and Millennials are increasingly sensitive to their environmental footprint, as well as the impact of food on animal welfare. A mandatory method of production labelling system, applying also to imported products, would help provide the information they need to make conscious food purchasing choices. The WTO treaties recognise that trade policy must be led in accordance with sustainable development. Yet the WTO has shied away from clarifying whether it is legal to use labels based on a method of production that does not impact the final aspect of these products (i.e.: animal welfare, carbon emissions).

During our panel we will thus present the different initiatives that some of our members are working on, as well as analyse the compatibility of method of production label with WTO rules. The session will also give business representatives a chance to present their views on how such a labelling system could help foster sustainable trade and respond to young consumers’ demands for sustainable food products.

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Stephanie Ghislain
Trade and Animal Welfare Project Leader

+32 479 436 083