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EU Appeals WTO Beef Hormone Ruling

Brussels said it welcomed certain elements of the March verdict, but disagreed with the WTO panel's finding that the EU still illegally bans hormone-treated beef.

GENEVA (AP) -- The European Union on Thursday appealed a World Trade Organization ruling that backed the U.S. and Canada in their dispute over the 27-nation bloc's import ban on beef treated with hormones.

Brussels said it welcomed certain elements of the March verdict, but disagreed with the WTO panel's finding that the EU still illegally bans hormone-treated beef.

The EU also cited the panel's failure to order the U.S. and Canada to remove retaliatory sanctions against European products.

''The EU believes that the panel made legal errors when it found that the new EU hormones directive does not comply'' with WTO rules, the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said in a statement.

The EU says beef treated with certain hormones poses a risk to human health. For other hormones, it has argued that a ''precautionary principle'' ought to be respected because scientific tests cannot yet prove their safety.

But Canada and the U.S. persuaded the WTO that there is no solid scientific evidence to support a ban. In 1999, the global commerce body authorized Washington and Ottawa to impose $125 million worth of duties a year on European goods _ sanctions that remain in force.

The March ruling said Washington and Ottawa should have initiated new legal proceedings in order to maintain the sanctions. But it also allowed them to maintain punitive duties worth tens of millions of dollars a year on European products such as Roquefort cheese, truffles and Dijon mustard.

The EU commission said WTO arbiters were not entitled to rule on the legality of the EU's hormone ban and ''failed to establish the facts objectively.''

The panel ''exceeded its powers by selectively relying on scientific experts that lacked the required impartiality, rather than accepting the existence of legitimate scientific controversy and uncertainty,'' the commission said.

Brussels brought the case back to the WTO in February 2005 after Washington and Ottawa refused to review their sanctions in light of new EU directives upholding the bans.

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