28 August 1997
EU appeal against hormone beef ruling?

By Boyd Champness

TENSION between the US and the European Union is likely to increase if the EU appeals against the World Trade Organisations ruling on hormone-treated beef.

The WTO recently confirmed its initial findings, first released in July, that the EUs ban on imports of hormone-treated beef was not based on scientific evidence and therefore acted as a trade barrier.

The WTOs ruling brought praise from US agricultural secretary Dan Glickman, who said EU consumers had been denied a “high quality and safe product”.

But early indications suggest that the EU will appeal against the ruling. An EU Commission spokesman said the EU had 60 days to lodge an appeal following WTOs decision last week. He said the issue was currently with EU lawyers, who were assessing whether or not an appeal was likely to succeed.

Any appeal is expected to take several months. However, if the EU loses – as widely tipped – then it will be forced to open its markets to hormone-treated beef or offer compensation to US beef farmers. The US has stated that it would push the EU to open its markets rather than accept compensation.

The US, together with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, collectively appealed to the WTO to get the EU ban lifted. The US claims that the ban, first imposed in 1989, has cost it US$250 million (£155m) a year in lost exports.