Import ban on hormone treated US beef stands

23 January 1998

Import ban on hormone treated US beef stands

EUROPES ban on imports of US beef produced with the aid of hormones is set to continue, despite a new ruling from the World Trade Organisation suggesting the ban breaks international trade rules.

Brussels has effectively been given another 15 months to convince the WTO that the six substances in question present a threat to human health.

In a positive move, the WTO has now accepted that the EU has a right to set safety standards higher than those applying at international level, reversing its original view of last August.

But it maintained that the EU was still breaking the rules because its ban was not based on any assessments of the level of hormone residues found in meat. It has not carried out a proper risk assessment, said the WTO.

In a dispute that has rumbled on for nine years, both sides are claiming victory.

"The WTO has agreed that Europe has no scientific basis for blocking sales of US beef based on the use of hormones," said US agriculture secretary, Dan Glickman. "We hope and expect the EU will now take the necessary steps to bring its policies into compliance with WTO obligations by moving to lift the ban."

But the EU was in no hurry to oblige. "The WTO upheld all the views of the commission except one," said EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler at this weeks council meeting in Brussels. "Only the risk assessment was in question because we did a general assessment, not one looking specifically at the substances under debate."

The commission has 30 days in to report back to the WTO and another 15 months to prepare a new risk assessment. &#42

See more