(NaturalNews) On December 7, 2012, in a move that will jeopardize more than $500 million a year in exports of U.S. beef and pork to Russia, all American meat supplies to Russia have been banned. Russia claims that the reason for the ban was the presence of the drug ractopamine in meats imported from the U.S. Whereas, the U.S. insists that Russia's actions were a response to the Senate including a measure to "name and shame" human rights violators as part of a bill expanding trade with Russia. Insistent that ractopamine is harmless, U.S. trade authorities have taken a stand against Russia's sudden decision to require that meat imports be documented as free of the harmful drug and have urged Russia to suspend such measures.
Ractopamine is fed to animals to accelerate growth and make their meat leaner, yet this drug is banned for use in 160 countries, including all the countries in the EU, India, and China. It is allowed in 24 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. Fed to roughly 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the United States, it has resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market. In July 2012, Codex Alimentarius of the World Health Organization, the world's global food standards body, met in Rome by representatives of 186 countries and decided to permit the use of ractopamine in meat.
In a recent attempt to combat the July 2012 decision and to capitalize on Russia's American meat boycott, food safety and animal welfare groups petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 20, 2012 seeking limits on the use of ractopamine. In their petition to the FDA, the Center for Food Safety and the Animal Legal Defense Fund called for an immediate reduction in the allowable levels of ractopamine and asked FDA to study the long-term effects of human consumption and the impacts on animals associated with ractopamine. Because ractopamine operates within animal tissues, it is believed to be a permanent component of the treated meat. Thus, it is transferred to the consumer when consumed. It has been reported by activist groups that ractopamine effects may include toxicity and other exposure risks such as behavioral changes and cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and endocrine problems. Residue tests for ractopamine are limited.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation estimates that exports of beef and pork are on track to hit $5 billion each for the first time in history of free trade. Although reaching the $5 billion landmark may be exciting for the U.S, it must be remembered that the use of ractopamine has cost us billions of dollars as countries like China, Taiwan, India, and the entire EU still refuse our meat. Pork exports to China, for example, quadrupled from 2005 to 2010 to $463 million but are still only two to three percent of the entire market share. Moreover, China and the EU requires U.S. exporters to certify their meat is ractopamine-free.
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