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Beef Hormone Crisis - Essay Example

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Beef Hormone Crisis

The future implications of what could turn out to be a drastic exploitation of science are uncertain, but should they prove to be negative, someone will have to be held responsible.
Experimentation with hormones has been taking place for approximately fifty years. In the early 1980s the potential use for hormones as growth stimulants in cattle were realised: "A hormone-treated animal gains weight more rapidly, producing a more flavorful and tender product. By reaching market weight sooner, there is a reduction in the cost of beef production. Thus, consumers are provided with a higher quality of meat at lower prices" (A Primer On Beef Hormones). Research intensified in attempts to better understand and ultimately put to use potentially revolutionary procedures in hormone administration.
Six hormones became the focus of attention for scientists and agriculturalists alike, three of which occur naturally within humans and animals (estradiol, progesterone and testosterone), and three synthetic hormones (trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol acetate). As early as 1981, Europe's stance concerning hormones became clear as the European Commission (EC) Council "adopts Directive 81/602 to prohibit the use of hormones, except for therapeutic purposes, but later postpones action on five hormones pending EC study" (Chronology of the EU's hormone ban). The United States adopted a more lenient policy towards the use of hormones as growth stimulants, encouraging the use of both naturally occurring and synthetic hormones as growth stimulants.
Problems immediately arose as both parties either side of the Atlantic began to realise the financial implications of their differing views. Finding themselves on the raw end of the deal, in September 1986 the United States "raises EC hormone ban in the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade ("Standards Code") of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)", and then early in 1987 "invokes dispute settlement under the Tokyo Round Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade" (Chronology of the EU's hormone ban). Hence a virtual trade war begins. The main results are a European Commission ban on all U.S. meat, and, in retaliation, one hundred percent tariffs on many millions of dollars worth of EC imports.
Following the climax of trade disputes between Europe and the U.S., a relatively quiet period ensued leading up to 1993. The greatest significance of this year was perhaps the development and introduction of a new synthetic hormone, "Posilac", otherwise known as bovine somatotropin. According to its manufacturer, "supplementing dairy cows with bovine somatotropin safely enhances milk production and serves as an important tool to help dairy producers improve the efficiency of their operations" (Posilac; Bovine Somatotropin). Quite clearly the financial potential associated with such a product is considerable, and, just a few years after its introduction into the U.S. market, a new series of appeals arose as the United States bombarded the World Trade Organization (WTO) with complaints that Europe was not complying with International trade law. Canada also joined in the protestations summarised in the Iowa Agricultural Review:
In 1996 the United States ...Show more

Summary

The beef hormone crisis is an example of the unfortunate connection between science and capitalistic intent. In the advent of the majority of scientific breakthroughs, an individual or a corporation stands to profit on a massive scale. Despite the creation of regulatory bodies designed to monitor certain areas of scientific research, protect the environment, and look out for the consumer, evidence suggests that on occasion financial incentives may impose a questionable influence upon such bodies…
Author : quintenkemmer
Beef Hormone Crisis essay example
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