Food Law News - EU - 1998
January 1998: HORMONES / WTO - WTO judgement on EU ban just one step in a long process - Consumer protection will be upheld!
DG24 Press Release, January 1998
«Hormone meat»: WTO judgement on EU ban just one step in a long process - Consumer protection will be upheld!
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body has now come to a conclusion
on the case concerning the EU ban on meat and meat products treated with hormones.
Even though the report is favorable to many of the arguments put forward by the
EU, the Appellate Body has found that the EU has not based its ban on a proper
risk assessment conducted in accordance with WTO rules (see previous item, below
16 January 1998).
This, however, does not force the EU to import « hormone meat » ! The ruling by WTO is just one step in the process. Within one month from now the report of the Appellate Body has to be adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and within one month after that the EU has to inform the WTO of its intentions with respect to implementation of the ruling.
Indeed, faced with the new WTO conclusions, the EU can now choose between three options.
- The first would be to open our borders to hormone meat, but the Commission believes that this is not acceptable from a consumer health point of view.
- The second would be to accept the WTO ruling, maintain the existing EU Legislation banning hormone meat, and then negotiate a compensation to the US and Canada on the basis of the WTO-rules.
- The third option would be to have experts conduct a formal risk assessment and then adapt EU-legislation on the basis of this new risk assessment.
Such a risk assessment would imply that a group of eminent experts would be asked to examine the health risks associated with the consumption of « hormone meat ».
Since the European Commission’s primary concern is, and always will be, the health and safety of consumers, and since it is convinced, on the basis of numerous expert reports already published, that the consumption of « hormone meat » does pose a health risk, it intends to pursue the third option.
Therefore on the basis of the ruling, it is clear that the EU needs to adapt its legislation according to WTO rules. This has to be completed within 15 months. It should also be noted that during these 15 months there is no obligation on the EU to import meat or meat products treated with hormones.
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