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Food Safety: The Beef Hormones Case

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Chapter Summary

At least since the 1950s, cattle have been treated with growth promoting hormones throughout the United States and in certain parts of Europe. The types of hormones used for this purpose include three synthetic hormones (trendbolone acetate, zeranol, and melengestrol acetate) and three natural hormones (17 beta-oestradiol, progesterone, and testosterone). With the adoption of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) in 1994, the United States had new legal grounds for its complaint. The SPS Agreement allows World Trade Organization (WTO) members to take food safety measures. However, it subjects this right to several conditions. Among other things, the SPS Agreement requires that a SPS measure be based on sufficient scientific evidence and risk assessment. The 1998 Beef Hormones decision was the first decision under the SPS Agreement. It was also the first time that a trade panel convened a group of experts to serve as expert witnesses.

Keywords: Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement); Beef Hormones case; Europe; food safety; growth promoting hormones; United States; World Trade Organization (WTO)



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