Letter: Is free trade fair?

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The Independent Culture
Sir: A major problem with the World Trade Organisation approach to free trade is that it puts downward pressure on environmental protection, food safety, animal welfare and workers rights ("Five reasons to worry about free trade", 2 December).

Animal welfare examples include the WTO decision that the EU's ban on imports of beef produced using growth hormones was illegal, despite human health concerns, as well as animal welfare problems. The European ban on the sale of fur from animals caught in steel leg-hold traps has been challenged through the WTO. The European phasing out of the battery cage may be made largely irrelevant if the EU has to allow eggs to be imported that do not meet EU standards.

The WTO needs to allow countries the right to insist that imports meet the same standards as domestically produced goods. Otherwise price competition will force all countries' standards down. Multinational corporations may gain from that, but the rest of us will suffer along with animals and the environment.

RICHARD MOUNTFORD

Regional Representative

Animal Aid

Tonbridge, Kent

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