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Europe's Ban on Hormone-Raised Beef Is Based on Sound Science

Chicago, October 8, 1996. — The following was released today by the Cancer Prevention Coalition, Chicago.

America's challenge to Europe's ban on hormone-raised beef will be heard by a World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel in Geneva on October 10.

"The cancer risks of meat from cattle fattened with sex hormones is based on sound science," said Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. Dr. Epstein has submitted a scientific affidavit to the European Union in support of its ban.

Nearly all cattle in U.S. feedlots are legally implanted under their ear skin with combinations of natural of synthetic sex hormones. The most commonly used is estradiol, which is as carcinogenic as DES, the banned hormone known to cause vaginal cancers in young women following administration to their mothers during pregnancy. Estradiol is also thousands of times more potent than estrogenic pesticides and other industrial food pollutants whose feminizing and male infertility effects are of increasing concern.

Confidential industry tests reveal that residues of estradiol and other natural hormones such as testosterone, are up to 30 times higher in implanted than unimplanted cattle. Still higher residues result from the not uncommon illegal practice of intra-muscular implantation. Furthermore, contrary to misleading FDA and USDA assurances, cattle are not monitored for hormone residues.

While reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health organization (FAO/WHO) and the 1995 European Commission Conference, have falsely claimed that hormone-raised meat is safe, these committees are largely controlled by senior U.S. regulatory officials and veterinary and food scientists, with minimal expertise in public health and cancer prevention. Apart from the problems of conflict of interest, these committees largely rely on unpublished and confidential industry data.

"Residues of sex hormones in meat products poses series cancer and feminizing risks, especially to infants and young children in view of their high sensitivity to hormones and carcinogens," continued Dr. Epstein. Such exposures have been incriminated in the sharply increased incidence of reproductive cancers in the U.S. since 1950 - 55% for breast, 100% for prostate, and 120% for testis.

Dr. Epstein concluded: "The Europeans have a strong basis for their concerns, which should be shared by American consumers."

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