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Update on Europe's Ban of U.S. Meats

The European Union permanently banned the import of U.S. and Canadian hormone-treated meat and asked the two countries to drop tariffs imposed in retaliation for losses caused to North American beef exporters. The 15-nation bloc said it now has scientific evidence to justify the ban, which was imposed in 1989 and ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1998. The United States, which had shipped $500 million worth of beef to the EU each year, is retaliating with tariffs worth $116.8 million on imports from Europe ranging from Roquefort cheese to leather goods. The beef-import ban reflects the EU's better-safe-than-sorry food-safety policy, known as the precautionary principle. The EU is pursuing the same policy in biotechnology, banning the import of genetically modified foods because of safety concerns and prompting complaints to the WTO by the United States, Canada and Argentina.

Reuters October 15, 2003

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