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USA squeezes EU over beef

13 May 1999
USA squeezes EU over beef

WASHINGTON is set to ask the World Trade Organisation to approve sanctions against the European Union in the row over hormone-treated beef …more…


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USA squeezes EU over beef

13 May 1999
USA squeezes EU over beef

WASHINGTON is set to ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to approve sanctions against the European Union (EU) in the row over hormone-treated beef.

The European Union (EU) has already said it will not comply with a WTO ruling giving it until today to lift its 11-year old ban on imports of US hormone treated beef.

Details of the proposed sanctions are yet to be announced, but there will be a two-month period before they are implemented, leaving time for a possible settlement.

The WTO ruled against the EU beef ban last year, on the grounds that it was supported by no evidence that hormones posed health risks.

The EU says a range of studies is ongoing in an to attempt to establish whether there are any health dangers from eating hormone-treated beef.

US officials claim the ban has cost American farmers $900 million (£556m) in lost revenues, but this estimate is expected to be cut to $100-300m.

The US administration is known to be under pressure from the powerful agricultural lobby to take a strong line with the EU over the issue.

US officials have said they would consider a temporary solution under which the EU would compensate the USA by lowering barriers to other farm imports.

Meanwhile, environmental campaigner George Monbiot writes in The Guardian that British consumers could be forced to accept hormone-treated beef.

Professor Monbiot argues that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has become the “patron of piracy” rather than an impartial defender of fairness between nations.

Its ruling in favour of the USA and against the European Union is reliant on scientific panels “stuffed with corporate nominees and US officials”, he writes.

The Ministry of Agriculture, in particular, has “sought to undermine the European position by welcoming the import of poisoned beef,” he says.

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