You should know. It would seem that whatever other rights you have, the right to know what is in the stuff you are eating would be one of the most important rights you have. If you actually believed that, congress has proven that you are wrong... perhaps dead wrong!
The World Trade Organization has decided that these laws in the United States unfairly discriminate against meat imports to the United States and gives advantage to meat products created within the United States.
The United States appealed that decision which was rendered by corporate lawyers calling themselves a Tribunal. The World Trade Organization rejected the U.S. appeal.
If one wants to support the domestic industry in ones own country, then this labeling is important. If one has information that certain countries produce products in a manner that may be harmful to human health and safety, then this labeling is important.
In response to the rejection of the U.S. appeal, the House of Representatives has voted to repeal United States laws requiring country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork, and chicken in order to comply with the World Trade Organization. The cowardly retreat from a reasonable U.S. law was passed by a 300-131 vote.
The WTO "dispute resolution system" is the mechanism that enforces WTO control over democratic governance. Disputes are not decided by democratically elected officials or their appointees but by secret tribunals of foreign-trade bureaucrats from a preset roster. Only national government representatives are allowed to participate in the dispute resolution process. State and local government representatives (such as a state attorney general), citizens, and the press are locked out.
For U.S. citizens, the notion of delegating "judicial" review to forums that do not have the procedural safeguards of the U.S. federal and state judicial systems is troubling. Trade dispute panels, whether in the WTO, NAFTA, or I988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, share highly problematic traits:
1 - Tribunals have no guarantee of impartiality or economic disinterest of decisionmakers.
2 - There is no required disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. (In a recent timber dispute under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, two of the five members of the panel were attorneys from firms representing Canadian lumber interests directly affected by the case.)
3 - All documents, transcripts, and proceedings are secret.
4 - No media and no citizens can sit in and observe the proceedings. And there is no outside appeal or review available.
The WTO text lists qualifications for dispute tribunal members that ensures they will represent only a "trade uber alles" perspective. The qualifications primarily include experience in a country's trade delegation or experience as a lawyer on a past trade dispute. Such qualifications produce panelists with a uniformly pro-trade perspective.
There is no mechanism to expose such panelists to any alternative perspectives or expert opinions on environmental, health, labor, consumer, or human rights issues. The WTO tribunal rules also forbid identification of panelists who have supported particular positions and conclusions, adding an additional layer of secrecy and lack of accountability.
Ironically, the only specific procedural requirement for WTO tribunals is that they be conducted in secret. Unlike complaints, briefs, and affidavits in the U.S. court system, documents presented to the WTO tribunals are kept confidential. Thus it is only as a result of a Public Citizen lawsuit that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) must finally release the U.S. submissions to the GATT panels. Even so, these submissions are censored by USTR officials in order to conceal the arguments of the other party. Documents from other parties in the dispute are still not available. So, if a state law were to be challenged, governors or state attorney generals would only have access to those documents or proceedings that the federal government chose to make available. (source)