EU Scientists Confirm Health Risks
of Growth Hormones in Meat

Associated Press
April 23, 2002

EU says new scientific evidence backs up beef hormone fears

New checks by a European Union scientific panel have confirmed that
eating beef from cattle raised on growth hormones is a potential health
risk, the EU said Tuesday.

The latest data backs up the EU's ban on the use of such hormones and a
prohibition of imported beef treated with hormones, which has led to a
long-running trade spat with the United States and Canada. The North
Americans dispute Europe's scientific evidence and allow widespread
fattening of cattle with growth hormones.

The World Trade Organization in 1997 upheld a U.S. complaint against the
EU ban and authorized the United States and Canada to impose about dlrs
124 million a year in sanctions on EU goods.

In a statement, the EU said its scientists used latest techniques to
review studies undertaken in 1999 and 2000 on the six banned hormones
and came to the same conclusion.

"The use of hormones to stimulate the growth of cattle raises a
potential risk for consumers' health," it said.

In an effort to resolve the trade dispute, the EU has been offering to
lower tariffs or raise import quotas on U.S. hormone-free beef exports,
but talks are stalled.

Brussels, 23 avril 2002

Growth promoting hormones pose health risk to consumers, confirms EU
Scientific Committee

The EU Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public
Health (SCVPH) confirmed today that the use of hormones as growth
promoters for cattle poses a potential health risk to consumers,
following a review of 17 studies and other recent scientific data.
Publishing its third opinion on the risks to human health from hormone
residues in beef products, the SCVPH found no reason to change its
previous opinions of 1999 and 2000.

This latest opinion follows a re-appraisal of 17 studies as well as
taking into account the latest scientific evidence available from other
relevant sources. The 17 studies were launched by the European
Commission to address certain research gaps identified following the
ruling of the WTO Appellate Body concerning the scientific basis of the
EU import ban on meat and products treated with growth-promoting
hormones. The studies addressed toxicological aspects, potential abuse
and control problems, as well as environmental aspects of six hormones:
oestradiol 17-â, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate
and melengestrol acetate and their metabolites.

Following the completion of all 17 studies, the SCVPH was asked to
review its previous opinions on the potential risks to human health from
hormone residues in bovine meat and meat products. The Committee
confirmed the validity of its previous opinions stating that "no
amendments to those opinions are justified".

The Committee made particular reference to the disposition of stable
lipoidal esters in animal body fats and the dose-dependent increase in
residue levels of all hormones in edible tissues.

Furthermore, the accumulating evidence confirmed the mutagenic and
genotoxic potential of 17 â oestradiol. The complex biotransformation of
trenbolone, zeranol and melengestrol acetate was identified.
Experimental and epidemiological data were evaluated regarding possible
consequences for the incidence of cancer from pre- and perinatal
exposure to hormones.

The final opinion of the SCVPH "Review of previous SCVPH opinions of 30
April 1999 and 3 May 2000 on the potential risks to human health from
hormones residues in bovine meat and meat products" is available on the
Internet at:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scv/outcome_en.html

For further background information on the "hormone-case", go to:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/him/him_index_en.html

Background

In 1988, the EU prohibited of the use of oestradiol 17, testosterone,
progesterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate (MGA)
for growth promotion in farm animals. This prohibition applies to Member
States and imports from third countries alike.

The United States and Canada contested the prohibition and, in 1997, a
panel of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that the measure was
not in line with the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). The EU appealed against this ruling and,
in 1998, the WTO Appellate Body reversed most of the findings of the
panel. The WTO Appellate Body only upheld the finding that prohibition
of imports of meat from hormone-treated animals to the EU did not comply
with the requirement that such a measure should be based on a relevant
assessment of the risks to human health. In reaction to these findings,
the EU carried out a complementary risk assessment and mandated the
Scientific Committee on Veterinary measures relating to Public Health
(SCVPH) to evaluate the risks to human health from hormone residues in
bovine meat and meat products treated with six hormones for growth
promotion. The SCVPH concluded in 1999, again in 2000 and again today
that no acceptable daily intake (ADI) could be established for any of
the six hormones evaluated. For oestradiol 17â it concluded that there
is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that oestradiol 17â has to
be considered as a complete carcinogen (exerts both tumour initiating
and tumour promoting effects) and that the data available would not
allow a quantitative estimate of the risk.

In the light of the opinions of the SCVPH of April 1999 and May 2000,
the Commission proposed in May 2000 to definitively prohibit the use of
oestradiol 17â and its ester-like derivatives in farm animals. As
regards the five other hormones (testosterone, progesterone, trenbolone
acetate, zeranol and melengestrol acetate), the Commission proposed to
continue provisionally to apply the prohibition on these five hormones
for growth promotion until more complete scientific information is made
available. This means that some of these substances, after re-evaluation
by another scientific committee of the EU, would continue to be
authorised only for therapeutical and zootechnical purposes under
specific conditions. The Commission considered that the presentation of
that draft law in 2000 represented another step towards the
implementation of the international obligations of the EU whilst
maintaining its chosen high level of health protection.

At the time of making that proposal, the Commission confirmed that it
will continue to take into account any new emerging scientific data from
any source. This is what it did with the third opinion on these six
hormones by the SCVPH of today. The Commission considers, therefore,
that the latest opinion confirms once again the scientific basis of its
risk management decision.

The European Parliament had its first reading on the proposal in 2001
and it is now up to the Council to adopt a common position.


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