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

After Decades In Storage, Damaged Rothko Murals Get High-Tech Restoration

In the early 1960s, abstract artist Mark Rothko created five murals for a penthouse dining room at Harvard University. By the late '70s they were trashed — sun-faded and splattered with cocktails.
NPR

Spread Of Palm Oil Production Into Africa Threatens Great Apes

Palm oil growers are setting their sights on Africa as they amp up production. More than half of the land that's been set aside for plantations in Africa overlaps with ape habitats, researchers say.
NPR

Newspaper Editor, Activist John Seigenthaler Dies At 86

He worked for The Tennessean and took leave to assist Robert F. Kennedy in the White House and during the senator's 1968 presidential campaign. He later helped shape USA Today.
NPR

Friday Feline Fun: A Ranking Of The Most Famous Internet Cats

Forget the Forbes Celebrity 100. This is the Friskies 50 — the new definitive guide of the most influential cats on the Internet. The list is based on a measure of the cats' social media reach.

Leave a Comment

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