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Dolphin Safe Ecolabel Deemed Illegal by WTO

Posted 11 October 2011 by admin to Ecolabel News.

Last week the WTO announced a decision that the Dolphin Safe ecolabel is illegal on the grounds that it unnecessarily restricts trade and effectively blocks non-US suppliers from the American market.

Mexico initially filed the case contending they were being barred from the US market because of the Dolphin Safe label. Mexico’s tuna industry was crippled when Mexican-caught fish could not obtain the Dolphin Safe label, causing US tuna brands to exclude them.

The consequences of this decision remain to be seen, as the US retains its right to appeal. This decision was met with criticism from environmental groups, who see this as proof that the WTO is putting environmental concerns on the back-burner in favor of trade laws.

In the wake of this decision, is it possible that more businesses will file lawsuits against ecolabels, using similar arguments? If so, lawmakers may have to make difficult decisions regarding where to draw the line between commercial interests and the environment.