EU sign trade deal with US for hormone-free beef

Farmed calves
© iStock/Lakeview_Images

Representatives from the European Union and the United States sign a trade deal reviewing the function of an existing quota to import hormone-free beef into the EU.

Since 1981, the European Union have banned the use of certain hormone altering substances in meat production. The banned growth promoting hormones include; oestradiol 17ß, testosterone, progesterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate.

Historically, there has been great disagreement between the European Union and the United States on the use of certain growth hormones in farm animals.

A representative for the European Commission stated: “In 1999 this independent scientific advisory body concluded that no acceptable daily intake (ADI) could be established for any of these hormones. For oestradiol 17ß it concluded that there is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that oestradiol 17ß has to be considered as a complete carcinogen (exerts both tumour initiating and tumour promoting effects) … The United States and Canada contested the prohibition of the use of hormones as growth promoters in food producing animals, and in 1997 a panel of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that the EU measure was not in line with the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).”

The Food and Drug Administration for the USA released a statement excusing the use of non-naturally occurring hormones in meat production.

A spokesperson for the FDA said: “These steroid hormone drugs are typically formulated as pellets or “implants” that are placed under the skin on the back side of the animal’s ear. The implants dissolve slowly under the skin and do not require removal. The ears of the treated animals are discarded at slaughter and are not used for human food… Just like the natural hormone implants, before FDA approved these drugs, FDA required information and/or toxicological testing in laboratory animals to determine safe levels in the animal products that we eat (edible tissues)… a safe level is a level which would be expected to have no harmful effect in humans.”

Representatives from both the European Union and the United States met in Washington D.C. to sign a trade agreement in which North America will begin selling hormone-free beef to the European Union. The party included; Stavros Lambrindis, EU ambassador to the United State, Jani Raappana, deputy head of mission for the Finish presidency of the council for the EU and Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative.

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