A story on National Public Radio’s “All things considered” broadcast on Tuesday addressed the European Union’s ban on beef from hormone-treated cattle. In an interview with a French beef producer, the story focuses on traceability, suggesting that European consumers demand full traceability of beef back to an individual animal at an individual farm. It also states that Europeans believe the use of hormones results in beef that is unhealthy and possibly dangerous. Hear the broadcast, and read a summary article.

Following the media’s typical approach to this issue, the reporter simply buys into the European bias and parrots misconceptions about U.S. beef production. The article and broadcast describe how European consumers believe beef from hormone-treated cattle is “unhealthy and possibly dangerous,” without any mention of the volumes of research proving otherwise. The French farmer raves about the superior quality of his home-raised, hormone-free beef, then whines about having to compete with “doped” American beef in the marketplace. He also makes the ridiculous statement that the American beef production system focuses on profit, while that in the EU focuses on quality, without of course, mentioning the massive government subsidies that allow European farmers to prosper while using inefficient production practices. If NPR took time to look beyond the appeal of the quaint French farmer and his pretty white cows, they would see the issue for what it is – a protectionist trade barrier.

One more thing. If you want a glimpse into gullibility of the public on this issue, read the comments following the article. — John Maday, managing editor