Alberto Alemanno () and Giuseppe Capodieci
Abstract: Although few citizens outside of the livestock industry have heard about this veterinary drug, ractopamine is set to become not only the source of public concern but also the trigger of another endless transatlantic trade dispute. After years of scientific and political deadlock, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) narrowly voted, on July 5, 2012 to adopt the first-ever maximum residue levels for ractopamine hydrochloride, a controversial veterinary drug used in animal feed that boosts growth and promotes leanness in pigs and cattle. The high polarization on the political acceptability of the substance as well as the politicization of its underlying science that have accompanied the discussions within Codex are likely to weaken the legitimacy and overall effectiveness of the adopted standard on the multilateral global food safety governance. In particular, this decision, by making it easier for the U.S. and others to challenge countries like China, the European Union and Taiwan for having zero tolerance policies for ractopamine residues in meat products, is likely to lead the World Trade Organization to judge against those countries that ban the use of ractopamine. Yet this likely outcome begs the question of whether the weight of an international standard adopted with a one vote difference could realistically be considered tantamount to one adopted under consensus. Under these circumstances, ractopamine is set to become the source of another endless transatlantic trade dispute and a test case for the embryonic and fragmented global food governance system.
13 pages, August 12, 2012
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