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Seal hunt appeal set to begin Monday – National

GENEVA, Switzerland – 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.

READ MORE: Ottawa plans to appeal ruling from World Trade Organization on EU seal ban

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.

An adult harp seal keeps an eye on her pup on the ice floes on March 3, 2008, off the coast of the Magdalen Islands, Quebec a few weeks before the annual seal hunt.

David Boily, AFP/Getty Images

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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.

MORE: WTO panel to report on EU seal products ban

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.

©2014The Canadian Press