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Europeans Opposed to WTO "Public Morality" Trade Ban: Sets a Dangerous Precedent

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -- (Marketwired) -- 05/15/14 -- Francais - Espanol - Italiano - Deutsch - Nederlands - English

The results of a poll commissioned by the Trade Fairness Coalition show that a majority of Europeans are opposed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) banning commercial products based on "public morality" unless there is clear scientific evidence to support a ban.

The WTO Appellant body is currently considering an appeal against its recent decision to uphold the European Union's (EU) ban on commercial seal products. The WTO ruled in November 2013 the ban could continue, as it fulfilled the objective of addressing EU public moral concerns on seal welfare.

According to an Abacus Data survey conducted in six European countries, representing the majority of the EU population, 50 per cent opposed banning commercial products based on public morality as opposed only 33 per cent who favoured such an approach. Furthermore, 57 per cent believe that if the WTO decision is upheld it could set a dangerous precedent for the trade other animal or natural resource products.

"It's clear that Europeans are concerned about publicly morality trumping scientific evidence," said David Hutton, Co-Chair of the Trade Fairness Coalition (TFC). "It's also clear they see the very dangerous precedent this could set for the fair trade in other sustainable use, natural resource and energy products."

The EU ban was put in place largely based on claims the European public was morally opposed to the hunting of seals. In the survey released today a clear majority of Europeans (63 per cent) felt that seal hunting was acceptable in some form while only 33 per cent were opposed to the seal hunt in any form. The survey also found that 75 per cent of Europeans saw the use of animals as acceptable so long as it done in a way that protects animal welfare and the sustainability of the resource.

"One of the main arguments for the EU seal ban isn't supported by the facts," said Aaju Peter, Inuit advocate and TFC spokesperson. "The WTO ban is based on the misconception, propagated by the animal rights industry, that Europeans are completely opposed to the seal hunt. It's clear they are not and therefore the WTO should rescind the ban and allow for the trade of seal products such as oils, meats and pelts."

Seals are hunted for personal use, resource management needs and commercial products across three continents including the EU. Many coastal communities, particularly Inuit communities in Greenland and Canada, rely on the seal hunt for both food and income. "The EU seal products ban has devastated our communities and resulted in real harm to the Inuit, said Aaju Peter. "The only people profiting off the seal hunt these days are the animal rights industry whom make millions while we are left to suffer."

A ruling by the WTO Appellant body is expected on May 20, 2014.

For a full report on the survey and results by country, visit http://abacusdata.ca/2014/05/14/tradefairness/.

Survey Methodology:

Abacus Data has just completed a survey of 2,407 residents aged 18 living in Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Spain. A total of 400 interviews were conducted online with a representative sample of residents in each country from April 11 to 22, 2014. The data was weighted by age, gender, and region according to national population statistics in each country. The overall six country average was weighted according to the population of each country.

The sample was randomly recruited from the Valued Opinions online panels. The panels are recruited. The panels are recruited using a "By-Invitation-Only"® approach and through online marketing with over 300 diverse online affiliate partners and targeted website advertising. The panels also comply with, or exceed, all applicable industry standards published by: ESOMAR, the MRS, and BVM (Germany).

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.0%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 400 is +/- 5.0%, 19 times out of 20.

The Trade Fairness Coalition is a group formed by members of the sustainable use and resource based business community who are concerned about the WTO's seriously flawed decision to invoke the "public morality exception" to uphold the European ban on seal products, in spite of the ban's violation of international trade law. For more information or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson for the Trade Fairness Coalition, please contact us at [email protected] or visit www.tradefairness.com.

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