An audit carried out by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety aimed at assessing the traceability of Canadian pork and beef intended for export under the CETA free trade agreement has uncovered serious failings.
While the CETA opened the European beef market to Canadian exporters, the audit has revealed loopholes in Canadian legislation which make it possible for hormone-treated beef to be labelled ‘hormone-free’.
On 01 October 2020, several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Jean-Lin Lacapelle (ID), Francois-Xavier Bellamy (PPE), Ivan Vilibor Sincic (NI), Rosanna Conte (ID), Gilles Lebreton (ID), Andre Rouge (ID), Gilbert Collard (ID), Aurelia Beigneux (ID), Herve Juvin (ID), Maxette Pirbakas (ID), Elzbieta Kruk (ECR), Ivan David (ID), Jerome Riviere (ID), Annika Bruna (ID), Traian Basescu (PPE), Catherine Griset (ID), Julie Lechanteux (ID), Ioannis Lagos (NI), Silvia Sardone (ID) and France Jamet (ID) raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. “Since Council Directive 96/22/EC of 29 April 1996 formally prohibits the marketing of beef intended for human consumption which has been treated with substances having a thyrostatic, oestrogenic, androgenic or gestagenic action and ß-agonists (scientific names of the hormones)” MEPs asked the Commission “does it think that this situation constitutes a breach of European law and the free trade agreement signed with Canada?”
The MEPs also enquired from the Commission “will it consider imposing a moratorium on the import of Canadian meat in order to protect the health of Europeans?”
Lastly, the MEPs requested specific information on “what provisions will the Commission put in place to ensure that there is no repeat of this situation?” and “might it renegotiate the agreements which made it possible, where necessary?”
On 25 November, Commissioner Stella, responsible for Health and Food Safety, responded on behalf of the European Commission. In her answer, she stated that “the outcomes of traceability exercises carried out by the audit team during the visits to farmers and feedlots did not detect critical losses of traceability or likely illegal treatment of animals” and “the situation does not indicate any breach of the European law and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) agreement”.
Commissioner Kyriakides explained that “the audit did not reveal that the identified deficiencies had any impact on the compliance of beef with EU requirements on the non-use of hormonal growth promoters” and “there are no reasons to introduce any trade-related safeguard measures to protect public and/or animal health”.
Finally, Commissioner Kyriakides underlined that “the Commission follows closely the developments in Canada and is monitoring the situation in order to ensure that appropriate remedial actions are taken” and “following an assessment by the Commission of the complete list of follow-up actions undertaken by Canada, the Commission will determine whether a follow-up audit would be warranted”.
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