WTO Rules Against Dolphins – This week’s WTO ruling against a measure to protect dolphins does not reflect the interests of the new generations coming to this beautiful planet. The World Trade Organization (WTO) declared that a labeling program, which allows consumers to identify and choose tuna not implicated in the death of dolphins, is unfair to corporations. The labeling was initiated in the nineties to protect schools of dolphins from being swept into nets during tuna catches. Originally, the program helped decrease their deaths by 97% but was watered down to comply with previous trade rulings. The new labeling program became voluntary for companies and was rejected as illegal in trade law this week.
Protecting Dolphins Called Discriminatory –The WTO, the world’s legal advisory body for free trade, said the dolphin protection measure was discriminatory to business, and a technical trade barrier. If the US keeps the program, the WTO advised Mexico, the complainant country, to impose trade sanctions. This is another example of how the so-called efficiency of the market does not reflect the true value of things, like dolphins, nor synchronize with the values of the public, like honouring the lives of precious species. The dolphin decision follows upon last month’s NAFTA ruling in favour of a corporation over an ecosystem home to endangered whales. The decision to protect this aquatic area was also called discriminatory to business interests.
Trade at All Costs — The market has no capacity to respond to sadness over dolphin slaughter. It only has tools to respond to numbers. Should it be in charge of decisions that are environmental or social? Despite appearances, this is not an Atwood dystopia but simply expected results in the context of present trade rules. As the WTO and ISDS rulings stack up across the globe, there appears to be no area of public interest 100% safe from trade’s imposition on behalf of big business. Whether dolphins, whales, solar panels, or smoking prevention, the free market trade model is unable to respond to social or environmental concern. Modern trade as designed now has one capacity: to protect profit of corporations at all costs.
An economic system distant from public belief but intimate with our lives — This is an economic system that denies basic protections for dolphins in a time when so many care about biodiversity. For dolphins, whales, all endangered species and the inheritance of our children and theirs, let’s shine a light on this type of trade. It is not another symptom, but in fact a foundational structure for exploration if we wish to create the world we want. We can create global treaties that legally protect ecosystems and allow business to prosper, but we need more interests at the trade policy table. As trade has moved into every area of public life, it’s time the dialogue is public. Read about the rising movement for the Rights of Mother Earth, potent medicine for corporate trade. Let the law-makers rise, pressed by you and yours, to protect our most valuable inheritance, the great blue planet and all her creatures!