Why Russia Is Saying 'Nyet' To U.S. Meat Imports | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Why Russia Is Saying 'Nyet' To U.S. Meat Imports

Chances are, you've never heard of ractopamine. But as of Monday, U.S. meat exports to Russia — worth $500 million dollars a year — have been suspended, all because of this obscure chemical.

Russian officials say American meat products won't be allowed into their country unless the meat is certified free of ractopamine.

Some U.S. meat producers add ractopamine to the feed that they give to their pigs, cattle or turkeys. Animals who are fed ractopamine convert more of their feed into valuable lean protein, rather than fat.

Traces of the additive can be detected in meat, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says those small amounts pose no risk to human health. The FDA first approved the additive in 1999.

There have been many reports, however, of health problems in animals that were eating ractopamine. Safety officials in the European Union, China and Russia have refused to approve it. (The Food and Agriculture Reporting Network published a thorough report on the controversies last year.)

U.S. companies that export meat to the European Union in fact, routinely make sure that their meat is free of ractopamine. But exporters to Russia have not been willing to do this. Even though meat exports to Russia have grown rapidly in recent years, U.S. exporters haven't been willing to spend the extra money required to supply it with ractopamine-free products.

American officials, for their part, are demanding that Russia end the blockade. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued a joint statement calling on Russia to "restore market access for U.S. meat and meat products immediately."

American meat, they asserted, "is produced to the highest safety standards in the world."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

6 Novelists Withdraw From Event Honoring 'Charlie Hebdo' For Free Speech

Peter Carey and Rachel Kushner are among those who are withdrawing in protest from the PEN American Center's annual gala. Kushner says she is uncomfortable with Charlie Hebdo's "cultural intolerance."
NPR

Drop-In Chefs Help Seniors Stay In Their Own Homes

As people age, cooking can become difficult or even physically impossible. It's one reason people move to assisted living. One company offers a chef to cook healthy, affordable meals at home.
NPR

Congress May Be Forced To Intervene Again On Mammogram Recommendations

Six years ago, a task force caused a firestorm by saying women under 50 may not need routine mammograms. The controversy was so great, that Congress passed legislation overriding the recommendation.
NPR

Canadians Love Poop, Americans Love Pizza: How Emojis Fare Worldwide

A study analyzes more than a billion pieces of emoji data across 16 languages and regions to gauge how different nations communicate. Most emojis sent are happy faces and other positive symbols.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.