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Statement from USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Siddiqui and USDA Acting Under Secretary Scuse on Codex Commission Decision on Ractopamine Standards

July 06, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Today, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui and United States Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse issued the following joint statement regarding the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)’s failure to advance the adoption of science-based standards for Ractopamine, a feed additive used to promote leanness in pork and beef. The decision came during the 34th Session of the Codex Alimentatrius Commission, of which 136 member countries were in attendance. Codex is the recognized international food safety science standard setting organization founded under the WTO SPS Agreement.

"We are extremely disappointed in the inability of Codex to reach consensus based on the volumes of scientific evidence presented to support international maximum residue limits on ractopamine. Political considerations should not cloud the decisions of an internationally recognized food safety authority. Today's inaction is a set-back for CODEX, science and fair trade.

“The safety of ractopamine has been confirmed three times by Codex’s own panel of international scientists. The United States and a broad array of Codex members in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands supported the adoption of the standard, but other members blocked advancement due to non-science questions outside the mandate of Codex. This is the fourth year that some member countries allowed non-scientific factors to cloud decision-making.

“Many countries, particularly those without resources to conduct their own scientific assessments, rely on Codex standards to inform their national safety standards related to production and imports of food. Failure to adopt science-based standards deprives them of this important tool.

“As the world's largest exporter and importer of food, the United States is directly impacted by Codex’s failure to act. The European Union, China, Thailand and Taiwan currently impose unjustified trade barriers on U.S. trade in beef and pork due to the use of ractopamine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Ractopamine in swine and cattle in 1999 and it is approved in 25 other countries.”