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1-Hormones: Countries free to set own standards on BST residues in food



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TITLE:  Countries free to set own standards on BST residues in
        food
SOURCE: Consumer International, by Michael Hansen
        Press Release
DATE:   June 30, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


CONSUMER REPRESENTATIVES APPLAUD A DECISION TODAY (30 June) WHICH
COULD SEVERELY LIMIT THE USE OF THE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED
HORMONE BST AROUND THE WORLD

Governments attending the biennial Codex Alimentarius Commission
meeting in Rome failed to agree on an international standard on
BST (Bovine Somatotropin) which is used to increase cows' milk
production. The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the main United
Nations body that sets international food standards.

Failure to agree to what is known as a Maximum Residue Level
(MRL) for BST means that governments will have much more leeway
at the national level to decide whether to allow the use of BST
in their countries. Already, the European Union has a moratorium
on its use in the EU and Canadian regulators have rejected
Monsanto's request for its approval. However it is widely used in
the United States.

The discussion at Codex today was unexpectedly brief with the
United States immediately proposing, in view of the lack of
consensus, that no standard be adopted. This was supported by the
European Union and then adopted by the meeting. A long debate had
been expected between the EU and the US. The US proposal took the
meeting by surprise, as in previous discussions on this issue
they had argued strongly for Codex to adopt a standard.

Consumers International, the federation of 245 consumer
organisations in 110 countries, welcomes this decision and sees
it as a victory for the health and safety of consumers. "With
this decision Codex has taken an important step in listening to
the concerns of consumers. Consumers International applauds this
result and the fact that national governments will be able to act
to ensure that their citizens are not forced to consume products
produced with the use of BST" said Julian Edwards, Director
General of Consumers International.

The hormone has been widely criticised for its detrimental
effects on animal welfare and could pose possible health hazards
to those who drink the milk. Consumers International believes the
hormones have not been proven to be safe. The adoption of a
standard would have asserted that the hormone was safe to use and
countries refusing to import dairy products from countries where
BST is used could be brought before the World Trade Organisation
on the grounds they are creating a barrier to trade.

For further information, visit Consumers International's website,
www.consumersinternational,org/campaigns/food 



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