chapter  Chapter 13
4 Pages

The Chemical Jungle: Today’s Beef Industry

WithSamuel S. Epstein

The United States (US) is isolated among meat-exporting countries, such as Argentina and Australia, in having threatened retaliatory sanctions against the European Economic Community (EEC) and accusing it of unfair trade practices because of its January 1, 1989, ban on hormone-treated US meat. Growth-promoting hormone additives, fed, implanted, or injected in more than 95 percent of US cattle, are mostly synthetic nonsteroids such as Zeranol, natural sex steroids such as estrogens, or synthetic pituitary hormones such as bovine growth hormone. Any possible trade basis for the EEC embargo, as alleged by the US administration, is extremely unlikely, particularly in view of tough regulations and criminal sanctions against use of hormonal additives in European beef. Contrary to repeated assertions by the US meat industry, the EEC’s 1985 Scientific Risk Assessment Committee did not exculpate the use of hormonal additives, but recommended against the use of synthetics and emphasized the need to further evaluate the safety of natural hormones.