01 July 1997
EU was wrong to ban US beef hormones
The European Unions nine-year-old ban on imports of hormone-treated US beef was illegal,
the World Trade Organisation is expected to announce today.
Such a ruling could force the EU to lift the ban, imposed in 1988 amid fears that hormones could harm health, or force the EU to pay the US hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for lost exports.
The WTOs interim ruling backed the US complaint that the EU ban was illegal because no risk assessment had been carried out on hormones used by US farmers.
The EU is expected to appeal against the ruling, with the appeal expected to start in September. France has urged the EU to take a firm line against the US and has already stated that it is prepared to ban imports of hormone-treated beef despite the threat of heavy fines.
EU farmers are concerned that the introduction of hormone-treated beef onto European markets will do little to improve consumer confidence in beef products, after beef sales remain low following the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis.