Hormone meat trade dispute goes before WTO

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags World trade organization European union Eu

A World Trade Organisation hearing beginning today on the use of
growth-boosting hormones could determine whether the EU's
processors will have better access to North American meat supplies.

Hormones, along with genetically modified foods, are a major source of contention between the EU and the US. The EU first banned the import of hormone-raised beef during the mid-1980s. The US tookthe case to the WTO for dispute settlement in 1996 followed by Canada. In 1999, the WTO ruled the US and Canada could fine the EU for not abiding by world trade rules. Since then the US and Canada have since imposed retaliatory trade restrictions and duties on the EU,under a programme approved by the WTO. The EU responded by basing the new EU Hormones Directive of 22 September 2003, in effect a continuation of the ban, on what it says is a full scientific risk assessment that was conducted over theyears 1999-2002. The current earnings are looking into whether the retaliatory duties should be lifted if the WTO agrees the EU has abided by the WTO's 1997 rulings by completing proper scientific studies. EU companies have had to pay a total of about €100 million in in duties to the US and Canada as a result. Australia, Brazil, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Mexico, New Zealand and Norway have alsojoined the hearings as interested third parties in the dispute against the EU. Before the 1985 hormone ban, the EU market was worth about $100 million a year for US exporters. They shipped mainly organ meats and beef offals as well as high-end cuts to hotels. Organ meats andoffals have little value in the US, but are sought after in Europe, according to Truth about Trade and Technology, an US farmer advocacy site. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in this story: WTO Hormone Dispute Site

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