The November 25, 2013 decision by the WTO Trade Dispute Settlement Panel to reaffirm the European ban on seal products could have broad and unintended impacts on other trade sectors such as agriculture and fishing where the morality of animal production practices could be called into question.
The WTO challenge by Canada targets EU Regulation 1007/2009, under which the import and sale of seal products—including seal furs, meat and blubber—is prohibited in the EU. The Regulation was passed in 2010 contrary to the presented evidence of sound ecological and animal welfare management practices in place for Canada’s seal hunt.
The WTO ruling has allowed the European Union to break international trade rules in order to protect “public morals” in that region. Morality is subjective and countries could use this precedent to discriminate against any industry or country that is sufficiently different in culture and environment.
The WTO needs to hear from all those who rely on the international trade of animals and animal products.