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Dairy Alliance Criticises Rulings On Cheese Names

For Immediate Release
14 August 2003

DAIRY ALLIANCE CRITICISES RESTRICTIVE RULINGS ON CHEESE NAMES

The Global Dairy Alliance today voiced its total opposition to any WTO rulings designed to restrict the naming of dairy products to their original territory of manufacture.

Citing the cheeses parmesan and feta, the Alliance argued that they are generic, global products and their manufacture should not be limited to Italy and Greece.

"Rules on these Geographical Indications (GIs) carry the risk of significant damage to producers, manufacturers and consumers around the world, for no obvious benefit in return. The push for these rulings is creating uncertainty and confusion in the world dairy industry. And it defies common sense," the Alliance said.

The Alliance, commenting in the lead-up to next month's WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico, laid the responsibility for pushing GIs on the EU, which is imposing them through internal law and bilateral trade deals.

"GIs are an attempt to privilege particular producer groups at the expense of all other producers and consumers - and to privilege the EU at the expense of the rest of the world. The EU is seeking to impose its regulatory approach on the world.

"Given the history of the development of the cheese industry, the overwhelming majority of cheese names happen to be European. Conferring special value on certain of these names through regulation would benefit European manufacturers only.

"Around three-quarters of production in major cheese-producing regions (the EU, US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Switzerland) is of cheeses with a European-origin name. All this cheeses could potentially be the subject of a GI application in its original region.

The Alliance suggested the common sense solution of providing clear and understandable labels such as "Parmesan from the United States". Regulation, in contrast, is a heavy-handed, high-cost approach to the problem. It would have the effect of reducing consumer choice - since in many parts of the world the names parmesan and feta would simply disappear from supermarket shelves.

The efforts of the EU to increase protection by limiting the use of GIs is very likely to significantly damage milk producers, milk processors and consumers around the world including in developing countries.

"The EU push is creating uncertainty and confusion in the dairy business and undermining the effectiveness of current WTO rules. It should be resisted."

-Ends

The Global Dairy Alliance represents the dairy industries of the principal non-subsidising dairy exporter nations: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand and Uruguay.

The Alliance's full policy statement on GIs is available at www.globaldairyalliance.org


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