BUSINESS

EU's Seal Ban Challenged By Tories At WTO Hearing

03/16/2014 10:51 EDT | Updated 05/17/2014 05:59 EDT
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PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA - MARCH 23: A young Harp Seal on a beach on March 23, 2010 on Prince Edward Island in the Northern Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. This year has been the worst ice year on record in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, meaning that a record number of seal pups are expected to die. Each year hunters travel to the region to hunt the seals for their fur. The IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare) have been documenting the ice conditions in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and discovered that few pups remain. Harp seals need ice for giving birth, nursing and resting, and seal mortality is expected to be very high this year as a result of the poor ice conditions. (Photo by Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
GENEVA - Canada's northern development minister says it was wrong for the World Trade Organization to uphold a European Union ban on seal products based on moral grounds.

Leona Aglukkaq says she made that argument today in a presentation to the WTO in Geneva.

Canada and Norway are in the process of appealing a landmark WTO dispute-settlement ruling, which concluded that while the ban undermines fair trade, the restrictions can be justified on "public moral concerns" for animal welfare.

Aglukkaq says the ruling sets a dangerous precedent because it offers the EU the opportunity to ban products from any type of business that involves the killing of animals, including the beef and poultry industries.

The minister says Canada's annual seal hunt is humane, sustainable and well-regulated.

Rebecca Aldworth, head of the Canadian wing of Humane Society International, says the WTO based its initial ruling on five decades of veterinary science that suggest seals are often killed inhumanely, which Europeans find morally objectionable.

The three-day WTO appeal hearing wraps up Wednesday and a final ruling is expected next month.

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