EU MOVE WILL TAKE ONUS OFF US ANIMAL PRODUCTS

EU MOVE WILL TAKE ONUS OFF US ANIMAL PRODUCTS

The European Union will soon remove a threat to imports of U.S. animal products that has bedeviled trans-Atlantic relations since mid-1997.

Last July, the EU banned the use of tallow, a substance derived from cooking animal carcasses, in the production of cosmetics and soaps as part of a program to lessen the risk of so-called mad cow disease. Animal product imports from the United States total more than $120 million a year.The United States, however, argues there is no scientific evidence that the use of tallow poses a threat to human health.

The EU never imposed the ban but the United States has pushed for an end to the legal uncertainty.

Now EU governments have agreed to lift the ban on the use of tallow or tallow derivatives in soap and cosmetics, paving the way for a broader agreement to ease a prohibition on their use in other products, notably pharmaceuticals.

Soaps and cosmetics are considered less of a threat as they are applied to the skin while other products, such as pharmaceuticals are ingested.

The commission will shortly rubber stamp the agreement officially lifting the threat to U.S. raw tallow imports by mid-February.

The lifting of the ban will allow Brussels and Washington to concentrate on more difficult dossiers, notably the unresolved 9-year-old dispute over the EU's ban on hormone-treated U.S. beef.

The World Trade Organization last week ruled that the ban violated international trade laws but said it could remain in force if the EU can prove adequately that the beef poses a risk to human health.