Re: WTO and food labeling laws

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Kragen Sitaker (
Date: Wed Jan 26 2000 - 09:01:48 PST

The noble Dr. Ernie, Saint of Darwin, writes:
> Does the WTO forbid *labelling* of food? Or just the banning of it?

I seem to remember that they oppose certain labelling requirements. I
would be extremely surprised to discover that they forbade labelling

> When wearing my free market hat (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternate
> Saturdays), I argue that the only true social sin is restricting a) choices
> and b) information. If the WTO makes it harder for consumers to make
> informed choices, then I'd say they were doing a Bad Thing (though I might
> still argue the standardization analogy).

You might have a point with standardization, but I think the costs and
benefits need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis.

> Conversely, what if the WTO said you couldn't ban product, but allowed full
> labeling. Would that meet with your approval?

I think it's a case-by-case thing. If it's a product where people
almost never bother to read the labels, most people will make
uninformed choices anyway. (I think of the numerous people at my local
Kroger who buy Sunny Delite thinking it's orange juice.) I think that,
in such cases, banning harmful products might be preferable to
requiring them to be labeled as harmful.

The other day, my wife bet me a dinner out that our grocery store
stocked cranberry juice. As it turned out, it didn't; it stocked
roughly 20 shelf feet of "cranberry juice cocktails" and "cranberry
juice drinks", most of which are 70% sugar water, white grape juice, or
apple juice.

I suspect that it would take some extremely obnoxious labeling to keep
people from being swindled into buying that stuff thinking it was
cranberry juice.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
The Internet stock bubble didn't burst on 1999-11-08.  Hurrah!
The power didn't go out on 2000-01-01 either.  :)

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jan 26 2000 - 09:01:52 PST