BERLIN – The World Trade Organization has ruled that the European Union can ban the import and sale of seal products for "moral" reasons.
Canada and Norway had challenged the ban on the grounds that it was inconsistent, granting exceptions that favor countries such as Greenland that are limited exporters of seal products.
A WTO panel decision published Monday found that the exceptions do flout international free trade rules. But it concluded that if the EU applies the exceptions consistently, then a ban designed to address "public moral concerns" is permitted.
Animal rights groups have long protested the mass clubbing of seals for fur and other products, saying it is inhumane.
The WTO ruling can still be appealed.