Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
28 November 1999 Issue

The World Trade Organization: Trading Away The World
[email protected]

Environmentalists, animal rights activists, conservationists and many other groups are preparing to assemble in Seattle from November 30 - December 3, during the Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to voice their opinions about the WTO's decisions which have endangered wildlife and the environment.

Most people know very little about the WTO which was formed in 1995 to lower tariffs, remove trade barriers and resolve trade disputes. But many people who do know about the WTO are rightfully concerned that something has gone very wrong with this group which regulates world trade.

The WTO elevates economics over all else. So it has overturned laws to protect turtles and dolphins, banned the European Union's support for banana farmers in the Caribbean, outlawed restrictions on the use of leg traps in the fur trade, and overruled the European Union's ban on imports of beef injected with growth hormones. The US has promised its agri-business lobby to challenge the EU's regulations on planting and labeling of genetically modified crops and foods.

The following article was submitted by [email protected] who plans to join in demonstrations in Seattle this coming week.

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As the new millennium approaches no one knows for sure what the new year will bring, but did you ever imagine that your government would sign away our rights in exchange for global commerce? The World Trade Organization has, and it plans to do it again starting Nov. 29th, this time looking to expand their power even more. The WTO is a very undemocratic process that meets in private and the public has no say in what is decided behind closed doors, giving transnational corporations power over governments and their laws. If a country has a law that is a barrier to trade, a dispute panel can decide to either weaken or overturn that law. Of course, protecting animals and their habitat is a barrier to trade and is not in the best interest of transnational corporations. For instance;

* The Marine Mammal Protection Act: The Marine Mammal Protection Act banned the import of tuna from countries whose fleets use fishing methods that kill dolphins. In 1992 this law was challenged under GATT (the WTO's predecessor) on the grounds that it was a barrier to trade, and a dispute panel ruled against the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Last year, Congress weakened the Marine Mammal Protection Act to comply with the ruling. This year, US supermarkets will once again sell tuna that is caught using methods that kill thousands of dolphins each year.

* The Endangered Species Act: The Endangered Species Act banned shrimp imports from countries that do not use simple and inexpensive devices designed to keep endangered sea turtles out of shrimp nets. In 1995, four nations challenged this law, claiming that it violated the rules of the WTO. Last October, the WTO ruled against the US ban on unsafe shrimp imports. The US government is now considering weakening the Endangered Species Act to comply with the WTO's ruling.

Just a few points to come up at this WTO ministerial summit are:
* unregulated genetic engineering of crops and livestock,
* the patenting of genetically modified organisms,
* a global free logging trade (a priority for Clinton),
*loss of consumer's right to know as to genetic engineering, pesticides, lack of inspections, origin, labeling, etc.,
and there is much, much more at stake, impacting all aspects of society and the planet. If you can, come to Seattle and join us as we shut down the WTO with, mass nonviolent direct action, protest's, teach-in's, giant street theater, music, and much more. For more information and ways you can help

WTO Ministerial -- Seattle, WA - November 27 - December 3, 1999
Global Trade Watch Home Page

Urge members of Congress to sign Rep. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT), "Dear Colleague" letter demanding WTO's review and repair. To find your congressmen on-line;

THOMAS -- U.S. Congress on the Internet

Urge your senators to oppose the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations in Seattle and to endorse an assessment of the WTO's record to date To find your senators on line;
U.S. Senate

Contact the U.S. negotiators and tell them why you think we should conduct an assessment of the WTO rather than expand it. Make sure to mention that you oppose any investment negotiations in the WTO.

U.S. Trade Representatives (the agency in charge of WTO talks) is
Charlene Barshefsky, phone: (202) 395-6890, fax:(202)395-4549
White House: John Podesta: (202) 456-1414
Vice President Gore: (202) 456-1111, e-mail: [email protected]
White House Fax Line: (202) 456-2461

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