The U.S.-EU Beef Hormone Dispute

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Trade concerns were not dominant in the early years, and the disciplines applied by trade rules were in any case weak. For the United States, three objectives were finally achieved.


First, the right of exporters to sell without trade restrictions posing as sanitary measures, but not scientifically based, was upheld. Second, the panel maintained the balance between the right to adopt higher levels of protection than are recognized internationally and the World Trade Organization WTO requirement that sanitary measures be based on scientific principles and not be more restrictive than they need be. Third, the panel ruled that sanitary measures predating the SPS Agreement are not exempt from its requirements.

The EU also found some comfort in the result. The ruling affirmed its right to establish a level of consumer protection higher than the level set by international health standards, provided it is backed by an objective risk assessment.

For Now, an End to the Beef Hormone Dispute

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Hormones in Beef

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The European Union and the United States reach an agreement on imports of hormone-free beef

To date, the EU continues to ban imports of hormone treated meat and restricts most meat exports to the EU to a limited quantity of beef imports that are certified as produced without the use of hormones. Up until , Germany, the largest beef producer in the EEC, together with Italy, Denmark the Netherlands and Greece had already prohibited the use of growth hormones, the other 5 member countries including France and the UK had allowed their use.

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Starting in , the EEC adopted restrictions on livestock production limiting the use of natural hormones to therapeutic purposes, banning the use of synthetic hormones, and prohibiting imports of animals and meat from animals that have been administered the hormones. In , the EU fully implemented its ban on imports of meat and meat products from animals treated with growth hormones, including those approved for use in the US.

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  • The second U. The list did not include products of the United Kingdom because it indicated support for lifting the ban.

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    Is there some special relationship between the UK and the US? Attempts to resolve the dispute, via the WTO, have not been successful and in the WTO issued a mixed ruling that allowed the US to continue its trade sanctions but also allowing the EU to maintain its ban. As of January , the EU has granted market access to U.