Brussels, 16 Oct 2003
Following a scientific risk assessment, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted a directive prohibiting the use of growth promoting hormones on 14 October.
The new legislation complies with a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) appellate body condemning a previous EU directive that banned the use of certain growth hormones. The WTO claimed that the scientific material used by the EU to justify enforcing the ban did not sufficiently evaluate the risk associated with meat consumption and advised further risk assessment.
Since the ban applied to meat imports containing hormones from third countries and EU Member States alike, the world's trading powers clashed, resulting in the US and Canada imposing sanctions on European products.
In response to the WTO, the new legislation incorporates a reviewed assessment of the scientific information available, as well as new evidence on the risk to human health of hormone residues in meat products.
Commenting on the new directive, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said: 'The EU has delivered a thorough risk assessment based on current scientific knowledge, fully respecting its international obligations. Public health and consumer protection are the core of our approach to food safety guided by independent scientific advice.'
Based on opinions from the scientific committee on veterinary measures relating to public health (SCVPH), the directive states that one out of the six hormones should be definitively banned, while a provisional ban should be imposed on the other five hormones for growth promotion.
The Commission will continue to take into account any new emerging scientific evidence that may become available. In the meantime, the Commission will request that the US and Canada lift their trade sanctions.