At Agriculture Minister Nick Brown's request, the evaluation of the considerable amount of scientific evidence on the safety of hormonal growth promoters was carried out by a Sub-Group of the independent Veterinary Products Committee. The Sub-Group's report, which is published today, considered evidence, cited in a report of the EU's Scientific Committee on Veterinary measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH). The SCVPH Report is the first part of an EU risk assessment which relates to the EC ban on the use of growth hormones and the importation of meat from treated cattle.
Mr Brown said:
"This report is a valuable contribution to the scientific debate on the safety of hormonal growth promoters. Further work is being carried out by European institutes at the request of the Commission and we shall continue to play a constructive part in examining this important issue. The ban has always been fully implemented in the UK and it will continue to be so until EC legislation is changed. "
The use of hormonal growth promoters has been banned in the European Community since 1988. In addition, any third country which permits the use of growth promoting hormones is required to guarantee that no animals and no meat coming from animals to which they have been administered will be exported to the Community. The UK opposed this ban on the grounds that there was no scientific evidence to justify its imposition.
In 1998 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body ruled that the EU had not undertaken a proper risk assessment prior to imposing the ban on hormone growth promoters and that the scientific reports referred to by the Commission did not rationally support the EU position. The EU was required to comply with the ruling by 13 May 1999.
The European Commission is conducting a new risk assessment consisting of a number of related research projects. Most of these are unlikely to be finalised until late 1999 but some are being published as interim reports. The Commission has already published, on the Internet, the detailed report of SCVPH, the Executive Summary and the responses to specific questions put to the Committee by the Commission in November 1998.