- BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will respond to a World Trade
Organization ruling finding fault with its ban on imports of hormone-treated
beef by commissioning four new studies of any risk to humans from the meat,
an EU source said Tuesday.
- The controversial ban will remain in
place while the new studies are carried out, the source said. The EU's
decision, to be announced officially to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body
in Geneva Friday, could set it on a collision course with the United States
which has said it will not put up with new risk assessments before the
EU lifts the ban. A WTO appeal board found in January that the EU's decade-old
ban on imports of beef from cattle treated with growth hormones ran counter
to global trading rules.
- The EU and the United States, which brought
the WTO case together with Canada, have clashed over the implications of
the ruling, with Washington demanding that the ban be lifted and Brussels
saying that the WTO ruling only requires it to produce a scientific assessment
of any risk to humans from eating hormone-treated beef.
- The EU hailed the WTO ruling in January,
saying it upheld the EU's position on four of five major points in dispute.
The EU is due to report to the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body Friday on
how it plans to implement the WTO's findings. EU officials would tell the
WTO body it intended to fulfill its WTO obligations by commissioning four
independent studies into the possible risks posed by hormone-treated beef,
an EU source said.
- The Scientific Veterinary Committee for
Public Health would then look at the results of the studies and all other
available information in assessing possible risk, the source said. ``In
the meantime, the ban will stay,'' he said. The source did not say how
long the studies would take to complete, but the EU must in theory come
up with a plan of action to bring it into conformity with the WTO appeals
board ruling within 15 months.
- EU officials have previously said that,
if the scientific study concluded there was a risk, it could justify keeping
the ban in place.