Russia bans meat from ractopamine-treated animals

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In a move largely seen as political retaliation, Russia has announced it will turn away U.S. beef and pork imports unless the U.S. can certify them as containing no residue of ractopamine, a feed additive used to promote lean-meat production. The ban will take effect this Friday, according to a report from Nasdaq.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia by a vote of 92 to 4. The bill, however, contains provisions for sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights violations. According to news reports, some U.S. exporters and analysts believe Russia’s action on ractopamine is in retaliation over the human-rights provisions in the bill.

Earlier this year, U.S. trade officials negotiated a dispute with Taiwan over its ban on beef from cattle fed ractopamine. In September, Taiwan agreed to internationally accepted and scientifically established residue levels and dropped the ban.

The Russian ban, which would require certification that imported beef and pork is ractopamine-free, would essentially ban all imports from the United States since there currently is no testing program in place for exported meats.

According to the Nasdaq report, U.S. beef sales to Russia through the end of September, amounted to approximately $242 million, up 25 percent from the same time in 2011. Pork sales are up 14 percent from September 2011, at $208 million. Russia is one of the 10 largest importers of both U.S. pork and beef.

The U.S. has officially asked Russia to drop the testing requirements, saying they violate Russia’s agreements through the World Trade Organization, which the country joined in August of this year, and U.S. trade officials are travelling to Russia to discuss the issue.

On Monday, the U.S. Meat Export Federation issued the following statement:

“While USMEF does not comment on ongoing government-to-government discussions, we support calls by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for Russia to suspend these new measures and restore market access for U.S. beef and pork products.

Later this week, further meetings will take place between representatives of the U.S. and Russian governments and USMEF looks forward to the outcome of these discussions. U.S. beef and pork customers throughout the world can be confident that the U.S. industry is committed to supplying healthy, nutritious beef and pork. This commitment is based on the best available science and has the backing of the United States government. We are confident that a science-based solution to the disagreement over testing and certification can be found quickly so that exports of U.S. beef and pork to Russia can resume in the near future.”

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December, 11, 2012 at 07:04 PM

The question is, " Why use a drug that can only be used in the last 28-42 days of finishing, only increase gain by 12lbs, (does increase feed efficency 14-21% for that short period) but prevents you from selling your product in Europe, China and now Russia? Is it really worth the bother? Seriously?

Nevada  |  December, 11, 2012 at 08:18 PM

Because the profit margin is so low on feeder cattle that 12 lbs. may mean the difference between profit and loss. What seems simple to us, may not be simple at all in the big picture. Plus, if it wasn't ractopamine, it would be something else. Russia, EU and China are using it as a pawn to protect their own suppliers, or bad behavior.

December, 11, 2012 at 09:05 PM

Whoa, lets take off our blinders here. Perhaps Russians do not believe that America's prohibitions against dietary fats are a good idea. Theirs is a different culture and a different environment. Russia does not share all of America's phobias about cholesterol and all animal fats, which are mainly caused by propaganda that is peculiar to the U. S. food supply and the U. S. medical industry. The fact that most Americans have been sold on the idea that fat is bad and lean meat is better for our health does not mean that every other nation in the world shares the same ideas, nor should we expect them to. Why are we always so willing to blame others when they won't accept all of our additives and manipulations? A growing number of American consumers request beef produced without hormones, steroids, antibiotics and other feed additives. Try selling beef to the American mother of a 7-year-old by telling her that the animal was fed ractopamine to make it lean. The only way to sell it is to keep those mothers ignorant of what the cattle are consuming. Lets give our customers what they want. When we raise cattle on grass and market them as all-natural, we can avoid all those prohibitions, lower feed costs, increase the cattleman's profit margin, raise the proportion of good fats, diminish the bad fats, and make both Russian and American mothers feel better about feeding beef to their children.

IN  |  December, 12, 2012 at 06:42 AM

Well said W.E. But with my experience of communicating this with producers is 'we can't raise all the cattle on grass!' No one said ALL the cattle. It has been proven that grass fed has a much higher omega 3 fat, something that is needed, but very depleted in the typical western diet. We could lower our need for Big Pharma and Big Medical in this country if the USDA and the FDA weren't sold out to them and promoted what they know is truly healthy.

December, 13, 2012 at 08:35 AM

the below are from Wikipedia. We are putting chemicals in our animals that are definately unhealthy for them as well as for us. This chemical causes CHROMOSONAL changes? it increases blood pressure? What are we thinking??? And we are eating meat at a tremendous rate...I am NOT a Vegan, I eat meat. But I want my meat to be healthy. And we wonder why cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc, etc, etc are rampant. the results of several in vitro studies, including chromosome aberration tests in human lymphocytes, are positive. systolic blood pressure will also increase in a dose-dependent manner, while the diastolic pressure remains unchanged.

Kelli Price    
Seabrook Tx  |  January, 23, 2013 at 02:21 PM


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