European Report Slices Up Beefed-Up U.S. Beef

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Barely a month after the World Trade Organizationís settlement of the banana war between the U.S. and Europe, the food fight between the two continental trade giants continues. On Monday, beef was once again served up on the table of disputes as a May 13 deadline approaches for the European Union to lift its ban on hormone-treated beef from the U.S. The latest bone of contention: a report from European Union scientific experts stating that one of six typically used hormones used "has an inherent risk of causing cancer." The response from the U.S. side: baloney. "This is part of a struggle that has been going on for a decade," observes TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "The U.S. believes the heart of the dispute is over European farm subsidies and protection of their markets" and not much else. But, says Dowell, there is something more.

The additional concern is genuine fear, and as in most cases where the emotion rears up, it is difficult to quell. "European consumers," says Dowell, "are genuinely concerned about both genetically engineered foods and those that are treated with hormones." The recent scares over mad cow disease have only reinforced the European concern over anything that might be considered potentially suspect in foods. European solutions -- such as specially labeling hormone-treated meats -- have been rebuffed by the U.S. as just another means of keeping European consumers from buying American. The latest scientific report is now expected to reignite the seemingly endless dispute, and could lead the European Commission to request an extension of the May 13 deadline from the WTO.