WTO Rule in Favour of Hormone Tainted Beef

US - A US Trade Representative has claimed that Monday's World Trade Order (WTO) ruling against a European ban on beef hormones is a 'victory' for American beef.
calendar icon 7 April 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Photo: EBLEX

Just a week earlier the US and Canada were both condemned by the WTO for imposing sanctions on European exports as a retaliatory act to previous EU restrictions on what they claimed was 'risky' hormone treated meat.

Buy the World Trade Order decided yesterday that a ban on certain hormone-treated cattle remains scientifically unjustified would be a boon to U.S. beef producers — as well as EU consumers.

"The panel's findings on the EU ban are an important victory for all U.S. farmers and ranchers," U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said in a statement. "EU consumers should have access to U.S. beef — it is of high quality, safe and competitive. Considering the EU's position as the world's second largest beef importer, resolution of this dispute will benefit not only U.S. cattle producers and beef exporters, but also EU importers and consumers."

The ruling allows the United States and Canada to maintain sanctions on specified European products, though the EU has the right to appeal.

The dispute, one of the longest running in the history of the WTO, dates back to 1996, when the United States succeeded in its challenge of the EU prohibition. Following an unsuccessful appeal by the EU, the WTO authorized the United States to raise tariffs on imports from the EU to the tune of nearly $117 million per year. The United States did so in 1999.

In late 2003, the EU amended its ban. The original ban prohibited, among other things, imports of meat from cattle to which any of six growth-promotion hormones had been administered. The amended version maintained a permanent ban on one of those hormones and provisionally applied the prohibition to the five other hormones, pending availability of sufficient scientific evidence. USTR notes that the EU already had claimed it had sufficient scientific evidence for banning those five hormones.

"It is not surprising that the panel found that the EU continues to be unable to scientifically justify its ban," the agency said. "The hormone levels the EU is concerned about are 50 times less than the acceptable daily intake and they represent a tiny fraction of what occurs naturally in an egg or one glass of milk."

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