By André Gayot
On bumper stickers we often read this straightforward formula: “War is not the answer.”
That should be the motto of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the officials of this International entity try to reconcile the US Department of Commerce with the European Commission of Brussels. For now, the battle is raging.
The European Union does not want to buy American beef because of the (legal) use in the US of the growth hormone to raise cattle faster by some farmers. Indeed, not all the farmers. Apparently the EU is not sensitive to the difference and parks all of these American animals in the same corral. In response, the US retaliates with the threat of raising custom tariffs on European food items such as French Roquefort and Italian mineral waters so popular on this side of the Atlantic.
I wonder what the people of Darfur and the hundreds of millions of starving human beings in the world would think if they knew about this archaic dispute? Probably, they would devour the beef and cheese and gulp down the water, and would not pay much attention to the arguments of the combatants about the uncertainty of the impact of the hormones on the body versus the established innocuousness of the blue cheese and of the San Pellegrino.
For us, the overfed and over-spoiled, there must be a way to bury the hatchet. It’s true that not all US beef has such a controversial pedigree. More and more American farmers are now raising their beef cattle hormone-free, eschewing the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, opting for a more natural and organic approach in these green times. Any meat labeled “USDA-certified organic” at the local grocery store can not contain any artificial hormones. Can’t we soothe the Europeans with the promise that in a let’s-hope-near-future all of our meat will be organic, which would not be such a bad move for us and for our farmers as well?
The verdict will be handed down on May 9, 2009.