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EU Hits Back at U.S. on Beef Ban

May 19, 1999

GENEVA (AP) _ The European Union accused the United States today of trashing scientific studies suggesting hormone-treated beef can cause cancer and of exaggerating U.S. losses from the EU ban on such meat.

The United States says it will seek permission from the World Trade Organization on June 3 to impose $202 million in punitive tariffs on the EU for refusing to lift its ban.

The United States claims the EU has been uncooperative and unreasonable in negotiations to avert a trade war, but EU ambassador Roderick Abbott said the United States itself has shown little flexibility.

``I am extremely angry when I read this kind of thing. I think this is designed for the domestic United States audience, but I hope you won’t be misled by this kind of rhetoric,″ Abbott told a news conference at the WTO.

Europe claims some of the hormones may cause cancer and has banned their use by domestic producers. But officials say they will need until at least the end of the year to complete scientific studies to justify their actions according to WTO rules.

``We have 350 million consumers who want to be sure that this beef is okay. They have as much right to be heard and to have their views taken into account as the United States cattlemen,″ Abbott said.

Abbott said the EU would not dispute Washington’s request but would argue the losses incurred by U.S. beef producers represent ``less than half″ $202 million.

He accused the United States of not taking enough notice of European scientific research indicating a link between hormones and cancer.

``We have noted that the American side more or less trashed our recent studies before they even had looked at them,″ he said.

Announcing the plan for retaliation last week, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said all other possibilities had been exhausted.

``We take this course as a last resort. The EU should meet its WTO obligations. ... To do anything less is to jeopardize the credibility and integrity of the WTO,″ she said.

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