A deal between the Council of Europe, the USA and Canada will see the long dispute over the presence of hormones in imported beef come to an end.
The implementation of an autonomous tariff quota on high quality imported beef – following a first reading agreement with the European Parliament – will bring an end to the long running stand-off between Europe and the North American countries.
The new proposals will allow the US and Canada to boost their imports of hormone-free beef into the EU by 28,200 to 48,200 tonnes by August this year – while the EU is allowed to keep its ban on imports of hormone-treated beef.
The approval of the deal follows a vote by European Union (EU) lawmakers last month, which saw the proposal passed by 650 votes to 10.
The United States and the European Union (EU) have engaged in a long-standing and acrimonious trade dispute over the EU’s decision to ban the import of meat treated with certain hormones. The EU said the decision to ban such products was due to perceived health risks and a lack of evidence for their safety.
The EU-banned hormones in cattle farming were estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, melengesterol acetate, trenbolone acetate, and zeranol. The first three are artificial versions of endogenous hormones that are naturally produced in humans and animals and also occur in a wide range of foods. The second three are exogenous hormones that are synthetic and not naturally occurring, that mimic the behaviour of endogenous hormones.
All of these six hormones were licensed for use in the U.S. and in Canada.
In 1996, the US and Canada, which were worst affected by the ban, challenged it under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement system and were subsequently authorized to impose trade sanctions on EU produce. But as part of the ongoing talks with the EU, the US and Canada have already suspended duties on previously ‘blacklisted’ products originating in member states such as Roquefort cheese, chocolates, jams and fresh truffles - worth over US $250m at today's prices.
The new deal will see the EU more than double its tariff rate quota for high-quality beef that is not treated with hormones – with the current quote of 20,000 tons raising to 21,500 by July this year and finishing up with a 48,200 ton quote by August. At the same time, the U.S. has eliminated the sanctions on EU products.