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Russia to ban US meats despite criticism
February 10, 2013, 9:59 am

[Getty Images]

Russia imports nearly $500 million a year worth of meat products from the US. [Getty Images]

US officials are accusing Russia of applying protectionist measures to strengthen its local food market days before a temporary ban on American beef, pork and turkey imports goes into effect.

In January, Moscow’s Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS), announced that it would recommend banning the meat products because they contain a feed additive, ractopamine, which Russia and some EU countries says has adverse effects on humans.

“Ractopamine usage benefits producers, but not consumers. It is bad for animal welfare and has some bad effects on humans,” Donald Broom, a professor at the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine and a member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), says.

Speaking at a veterinary forum in Taiwan last year, Broom said that ractopamine use also increases human anxiety and is banned in 160 countries.

Sergei Dankvert, VPSS chief says that the ban on importing meat shipments from the US will begin February 11 “since the violations continue and we are finding ractopamine in [their] meat shipments.”

Russian officials said that the US had not responded about measures to ensure that meat deliveries were free of ractopamine despite several requests for information made in early 2012.

Canadian pork suppliers, meanwhile, have pledged to comply with Russian restrictions by late February.

The US says that Russia’s restrictions are “inconsistent with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)”.

Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary said in December: “The United States calls on Russia to suspend these new measures and restore market access for US beef and pork products.”

Last week the office of US Trade Representative (USTR) to the WTO Ron Kirk issued a statement to Russian media saying that the VPSS action threatens “to undermine our bilateral trade relationship.”

Russia imports nearly $500 million a year worth of meat products from the US.

Meat industry experts in the US say the Russian ban is a significant loss in business.

Source: Agencies