et le FMI tentent d'éliminer les barrières au commerce international,
indépendamment des conséquences environnementale, sociale ou politique.
sans aucun mandat éthique, ces organisations ne reconnaissent pas la
souffrance des animaux ou la destruction des espèces en voie d'extinction
comme des barrières justifiables au commerce international.
c'est ainsi que les pays ayant des normes plus élevées pour le
bien-être des animaux et qui tentent d'empêcher l'importation de
produits animaux provenant de pays aux pratiques inhumaines sont
réprimandés par l'OMC pour entrave au commerce et pratiques
docteur Kail présente plusieurs exemples de tentatives échouées
d'empêcher l'importation de produits animaux provenant de pays ayant peu
ou aucune norme éthique.
Free Trade in Misery
Dr. Paul Kail
aim of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to force countries to
remove trade barriers, regardless of the environmental, social or
moral consequences. Membership is voluntary; however, following a 1996
agreement, the WTO has worked closely with the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
These organizations have the power to give or withhold financial
assistance to a country, based on the extent to which it has
deregulated its economy and complied with WTO rules. What does this
mean in terms of membership?
Because the WTO operates in a moral vacuum, it does not recognize a
trade restriction based on ethical grounds as legitimate. Countless
laws to reduce suffering and preserve endangered species have been
abandoned as a direct result of the WTO.
It is inevitably the case that animal welfare legislation develops
piecemeal. Some counties, such as Sweden, are typically at the
forefront, while others, such as Japan and Mexico, are still a few
decades behind. Thus, it is critical that countries that have high
welfare standards be able to limit imports of goods produced in
countries that have lower ethical standards. Unfortunately, WTO rules
make this impossible. In some circumstances, it can even be illegal to
inform consumers how the different products were produced, as this is
regarded as a form of discrimination.
Nor is it possible for countries to simply ignore the WTO rules.
When this happens, the country "injured" by the supposedly
unfair trade barriers can demand an amount of money equivalent to the
losses caused by the barrier. In addition, the country is labeled as a
renegade member of the WTO, with serious consequences.
For example, in 1995, the European Union (EU) banned the use of steel-jaw leg hold
traps, and announced that the following year it would ban the import
of fur from thirteen species unless these traps had been replaced by
more humane alternatives. In the United States (US) and Canada, the fur lobbies
lobbied their governments to challenge the ban through the WTO.
Knowing that it would inevitably lose, the EU effectively backed down.
Leg-hold traps are cruel and indiscriminate. When an animal is
caught, he or she is in constant pain for hours or days. In some
cases, animals have been so desperate to escape that they have chewed
off their own limbs. This cruelty is unnecessary: the EU was not
asking the fur industry to quit completely, merely to replace
steel-jaw traps with more humane alternatives. The ban received
widespread support in EU countries, and was clearly the will of the
Another example concerns dolphins. In the Eastern Tropical Pacific,
tuna fish are typically found underneath shoals of dolphins. Fishermen
therefore developed a technique for catching tuna in which speedboats
are used to chase the dolphins and the fish are caught in purse seine
nets. However, the dolphins are also caught up in this, and either
drown or are crushed by winches on the ship. Five to seven million
dolphins have died because of this method of fishing. In the 1980s,
the US introduced laws that regulated the way in which dolphins were
killed by American fleets, and banned the import of tuna caught using
methods which kill dolphins.
However, Mexico filed a complaint to (General Agreement on Trade
and Tariffs) GATT, the precursor of the WTO,
saying the US regulations were an "unfair trade barrier".
Although the US challenged these rulings, when GATT developed into the
WTO the right to block rulings was lost. Following lobbying from the
Mexican tuna industry, and under threat of an appeal to the WTO, the
US changed its legislation to allow tuna caught using methods that
kill dolphins to be sold in the US.
in crates stacked on the back of a truck, chickens are transported
to the slaughterhouse
(photo: Farm Sanctuary)
A further example concerns battery farming of chickens. Although EU
regulations on the welfare of farm animals are inadequate, laws in the
US are even worse. The EU minimum standard for chickens since 1995 has
been 450 sq cm (70 sq inches) per bird. This is pitiful. Yet, in the
US, many birds are kept in half this space. In 2012, the EU will ban
battery cages entirely. However, unless the EU has the power to veto
the dictates of the WTO, this will have little overall effect on
animal welfare. Because of the WTO, it is inevitable that countries
with relatively high welfare standards will have their markets swamped
with animals kept under more brutal conditions overseas.
Many people have argued that the underlying purpose of the WTO and
IMF is simply to make the world more comfortable for international
corporations. Whether this is true or not, it is clear that they
regard protection of the environment and a desire to treat our fellow
creatures humanely as an impediment to development, rather than an
essential part of it.