Mess With Our Beef and We'll Ban Your Goose Liver!

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Oh no, not the foie gras! The choice of weapons in trade warfare is always a little arbitrary -- if not downright odd -- and it is American gourmets who look likely to pay the price for Europe’s ban on hormone-treated beef from the U.S. The World Trade Organization Thursday approved requests by the U.S. and Canada for retaliatory sanctions, although the precise extent of those measures remains to be negotiated.

The sanctions will take the form of tariffs on a range of European imports that will drive up their prices in U.S. markets, and Washington’s preliminary target list reads like a shopping list for the discerning palate: Truffles, Roquefort cheese, goose liver, onions, chestnuts, paprika, chocolate and more. "There’s no scientific proof that hormone-treated beef causes cancer," says TIME senior business writer Bernard Baumohl. "This is another in long line of disputes signaling a rising protectionism in Europe that could disrupt international trade and economic growth." The danger, of course, is that it amplifies protectionist instincts on Capitol Hill. "The mood in Congress is growing very intolerant when it comes to opening markets, because the U.S. has accumulated a huge trade deficit in order to keep the international economy running," says Baumohl. "Global prosperity depends on open markets, but Europe’s imports are not expanding." One sanctioned item nobody will take issue with, though, is European poultry. Not since it was revealed that Belgian chickens have been dining on dioxin-laced feed.