July 06, 2012
Ractopamine is a drug given to pigs and cows in the last months of their lives to "make the meat more lean". Taiwan has been blocking imports of meat from the US over concerns that the drug's residues that stay in the meat are less than healthy.
At a recent Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting, the meat producing and exporting countries, and those heavily lobbied and pressured by US diplomats prevailed in a close vote to make the agency adopt a standard for residues of ractopamine in meat. That means that the countries that resist meat from doped animals will have a harder time to justify why they don't want to subject their citizens to yet another experiment for the sake of the economy of large-scale animal-to-meat operations.
Scott Tips of the National Health Federation has represented the consumer side at Codex and he reports on the meeting:
After taking a vote by secret ballot this late morning, the Chairman of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Mr. Sanjay Dave, announced the results of the voting on whether or not Ractopamine (a steroid-like vet drug, the residues of which remain in the slaughtered animal to then be consumed by meat-eaters) standards were adopted. Out of 143 ballots cast, the vote was 69 for Ractopamine, 67 against Ractopamine, with 7 abstaining. If only one vote had shifted from the “for” camp to the “against” camp, then the result would have been completely different and the Ractopamine standard would not have been adopted.
This voting was forced upon the Commission by the insistence of the United States, Costa Rica, and Brazil that the long stalemate over the adoption of a standard for Ractopamine MRLs (Maximum Residue Levels) could not be resolved through the Codex-preferred process of “consensus” but would, after all, have to be voted upon...
The European Union (EU) and other delegations – firmly opposed to the adoption of a standard for Ractopamine that would permit WTO trade challenges against existing Ractopamine bans – challenged the need for a vote, as they knew that the United States, Canada, and others had been lobbying Codex countries since last year to support Ractopamine use throughout the World. Nevertheless, in a late-evening Codex session held yesterday, the Commission voted to move forward on a vote, to be held today.
Read Scott's whole report here: CODEX ADMITS IT'S NOT ABOUT HEALTH
The industrial beef and hog producers are elated, it seems, that they succeeded to pressure Codex into acting to protect their business bottom line, rather than consumer health.
The National Hog Farmer: Codex Adopts Food Safety Standards for Ractopamine
In Taiwan, meanwhile, there has been a change of heart in government and the executive has agreed to conditionally lift the previous government's ban on US beef. Government spokesmen say that the Codex decision will not change the government's decision to conditionally allow US beef imports.
Still there are plenty of countries that are dead against allowing ractopamine in meat, among them the European Union, and the fight is far from over...
For some background, see US Using Codex Alimentarius to Force EU to Allow Carcinogenic Drug in Animal Feed, written by Heidi Stevenson one and a half years ago.