The European Union's head office said Monday it had filed a complaint against the United States and Canada for failing to lift sanctions against the EU over its ban on imports of hormone-treated beef.
BRUSSELS, Belgium − The European Union's head office said Monday it had filed a complaint against the United States and Canada for failing to lift sanctions against the EU over its ban on imports of hormone-treated beef.
"There is no reason why European companies should continue to be targeted by sanctions when they export to Canada and the United States," EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said. Lamy said the EU's contentious ban "on certain growth-promoting hormones is now in full respect" of world trade rules. The EU complaint was filed at the World Trade Organization.
EU spokeswoman Arancha Gonzalez said EU officials had been in contact with both Washington and Ottawa to "invite them to lift their sanctions" after the 25-nation bloc passed new legislation limiting the ban on hormones.
"They have not done so," Gonzalez said. "We have no other alternative than to go to the WTO and ask the WTO to ask to lift the sanctions.... We hope the U.S. and Canada get the message loud and clear."
The United States and Canada said last year they would maintain their trade sanctions against the EU over its hormone ban, rejecting claims by Brussels that it now has solid scientific proof that the meat poses a risk to human health and therefore can be banned under world trade rules.
"We still don't see how they're in compliance because the EU ban remains in place and is still unsupported by any scientific rationale," Richard Mills, spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, said in a statement Monday.
"The hormone levels they are concerned about are 50 times less than the acceptable daily intake and they represent a tiny fraction of what occurs naturally in an egg or one glass of milk."
Gonzalez said EU officials at WTO headquarters in Geneva requested "formal consultations" with the two countries.
If those 60-day talks fail to solve the row, "we will obviously have to start a dispute case," Gonzalez said.
The WTO ruled in 1998 that the EU's ban was illegal because of a lack of solid scientific evidence. In retaliation, the United States and Canada impose about $125 million worth of duties each year on European products such as French Roquefort cheese, truffles, mustards, and other delicacies.
In response the EU passed new legislation on the use of hormones in meat products for consumption, based on independent research, Gonzalez said.
The new rule, however, maintains a permanent ban on the use of the hormone oestradiol 17b and a provisional ban on five other growth-promoting hormones, including testosterone, progesterone, and zeranol.
Under the new legislation, which came into force last month, the EU will "regularly review scientific information that may become available in the future."
Source: Associated Press