Bush War on Roquefort Raises a Stink in France – washingtonpost.com — Let me summarize. We have a cattle industry pumping up animals with hormones and anti-biotics and all sorts of things not allowed in the EU where they have some respect for the food supply. The EU bans our beef. So we screw over the farmers who make this delicious and specialized cheese. Pathetic. Of course now the French are thinking of dropping a huge tariff on Coca-Cola.

In its final days, the Bush administration imposed a 300 percent duty on Roquefort, in effect closing off the U.S. market. Americans, it declared, will no longer get to taste the creamy concoction that, in its authentic, most glorious form, comes with an odor of wet sheep and veins of blue mold that go perfectly with rye bread and coarse red wine.

The measure, announced Jan. 13 by U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab as she headed out the door, was designed as retaliation for a European Union ban on imports of U.S. beef containing hormones.

  1. gmknobl says:

    (I hope someone fixed last night’s database error.)

    This one is pretty simple but it depends on which side you want to side on. Hopefully Mr. Fusion won’t blow an illogic gasket again.

    The science is still out on whether hormone injected beef cause problems in humans (or the cattle) down the road. The big business run U.S. industry has decided it makes for bigger profits so regardless of any evidence to the contrary, they want this to continue. The European public and the EU take the view that this is risky so until something proves it’s okay, it shouldn’t be done (very hard to do). They’ve asked the U.S. based beef industries to stop importing it. The U.S., speaking up for the big business beef guys said “NO!” A fight ensued. The EU blocked U.S. beef imports, really hitting our beef big business dudes’ pocket books. So, the U.S. took the E.U. to international court. The U.S. won. The E.U. continued to do it anyway and appealed. The E.U. lost so the importing of beef should now be allowed. They continued to ignore the court decisions.

    Legality, as expressed by the world court, is on the side of the U.S. even if the public opinion in Europe says otherwise. The E.U. is ignoring the rulings and continuing to ban the U.S. product. Since the world court order is not enforced, Shrub and co. decided to help out their pals by retaliating against the E.U. member France and imposing horrendously high tariffs on Roquefort. It was already a 100% tariff, (2x) now it will be 300% (4x). This will likely be seen as illegal by the world court if it’s taken to court.

    So, should the E.U. start importing the beef because it is technically illegal to ban it? I say yes, they should. Then they should label it hormone injected and put nasty warnings on it akin to cigarettes IF their science shows nasty things can happen to you by eating it. Note I say their scientists because the studies in the U.S. don’t show this. However, all the studies I’ve seen were sponsored by our the big business beef dudes here so, just like all “science” done with Shrub and co. and even before that when it came ONLY from the industry which make them quite suspect.

    I view this as a case of the E.U. scientists and public likely being right but the science is muddled by nonobjective opinions on both sides. One good study needs to be done by someone sponsored by Consumers Union or some such. (Is there one, anyone?) Of course, this type of study would take a long time to see results as you’d have to look for risk of cancer development and such. Let that study help decide the fate of hormoned food, or at least beef.

    We know putting hormones into our bodies can screw you up greatly. We know there is residual hormone levels in hormone injected beef or other products. Therefore, it’s not a great leap to suppose it is likely there will be some adverse affect to us, let alone the animal this is done to. Much of the evidence showing that there is no harm done to humans nor animals is suspect. Therefore, until a good long term study, sponsored by non-industry associated (or without any monetary or political ties to industry) is conducted and concluded, it would be prudent to stop this practice in the U.S. Under Clinton and Shrub, this would never happen. I doubt things will change on this under Obama but one can hope. What he should do though is stop the silly war of tariffs and bans, lift the tariff on the cheese and ask for a study while asking for voluntary ban on hormones, review current evidence to see if there should be a temporary ban on hormone use now while the long term study is done. If the voluntary ban is ignored by the industry, then they will have to deal with whatever the E.U. does, be it massive warning labels or a ban, which I think they should not do because of the prior rulings. The E.U. public won’t buy the stuff with all those warnings anyway so lifting the ban won’t change much.

    Remember folks, this isn’t small farmers doing this on their own, it’s foisted by big business which runs most ag now. The only moral big business has is making money. They will do anything and everything to do this regardless of the effect on people or animals to achieve this goal. That’s why big business always need strong regulation by the government. That’s why standards for all business should be established, by use of good, non-biased science should be pushed down from the top by government, because this won’t happen in the industry by itself. This is one of the chief roles of government is safeguarding the U.S. populace. This type of standards development would also benefit the tech industry too. We’d have real “N” now, not just eternal “draft n.” We’d also have a competitive communications infrastructure, not a crumbling behind the curve one.

  2. zebulon says:

    Lou #28
    My opinion about the protesters against Experimental GM fields is more nuancée.
    I come from a family of scientists, my mother lost once years of research when the rocket containing “her” scientific satellite exploded at launch: I know what it is to lose a costly and long experiment. And when you know that such experiments are meant to scientifically prove (or not) the dangers of GM food, you can’t love these protesters.
    Now, on the other side: these destructions are limited to a few fields, and thought are a communication “coup”: they invite journalists, do not hide, give their names, are put in jail,… and they think that it’s the ONLY way to fight MonSanto&Co, who do very active & expensive lobbying in Bruxelles & European capitals…

    And about vaccination: we French have very extensive vaccination regulations ( Pasteur was French ). I agree that people who refuse to vaccinate their children are, if not idiots, at least certainly badly mis-informed. Now, vaccination is not without danger, and never totally safe: in some cases, one can wonder if we wouldn’t better without a vaccine ( we had the case with the tuberculosis vaccine in France)

  3. Named says:

    Bobbo… so you’re now Lou Minatti?

    My idiocy equation was for Lou, not you.. unless you are Lou. You cannot compare not wanting hormone injected beef to not wanting vaccinations. It’s intellectually dishonest.

    To put it another way, vaccinations have protected society from potential catastrophic illnesses. Not injecting beef with hormones affects ConAgra.

  4. bobbo says:

    #32–gmknobl==excellent comment, thanks. Let me quibble when you say: “This is one of the chief roles of government is safeguarding the U.S. populace.” /// True when the evidence is “overwhelming.” When the evidence is “muddled” I see no reason why strict labelling laws don’t also comply with a government goal of “informing and providing choice” to the people.

    I can see a lot of people agreeing that “hormones do not cause harm” but having philosophical objections to it anyway.

    Hormones is NOT LIKE VACCINATIONS which I think is where #33 zebulon goes wrong. Unvaccinated people increase the risk of an outbreak of the disease in question so a decision to go vaccination free is not a question of individual choice alone. Reasonable people can disagree on this point claiming people have a right to be disabled for life.

    Let science rule.

  5. bobbo says:

    #34–named. Gee, an number of tangential issues. I think we actually agree on the main issue, so I’ll quibble:

    1. I call BS on your post is only for one person. Its a public blog and all are welcomed to chime in. Likewise with whoever said “this site caters to technical folks” etc. Trying to have your values control is just that. Shove off. I recognize I’m only trying to force my values over yours, and so we look to how the blog actually operates: open to all. As “uncensored” a blog that is still reasonably monitored as I have found. I’m right. You are wrong.

    2. Any two things can (and should) be compared and contrasted. The intellectually dishonest thing is to claim otherwise. Or, perhaps your intellect, knowledge, and imagination just aren’t up to it, but that is a different issue.

    3. Is “society” such a thing that protection regarding illness over individual free choice to expose oneself an overriding concern? I could argue that almost on balance, but like you favor the “right” of society to protect the ignorant, but that is a steep slippery slope I would want a fast hold on.—hence labelling.

    Who is really hurt if 3% of population refuses to be vaccinated against polio and 80% of them become afflicted? I had two friends with polio. Pain in the ass for them but I honestly can’t think of much impact on my rights?


  6. Named says:


    As proven in the US already, you are not allowed to label foods as safer or different from others. eg. Hormone free milk. The industry fought against allowing for dairies to label that their milk was free of hormones. Since you cannot prove that there is anything wrong with hormones precisely, they are banned from labeling their milk as hormone free. So, you’re lofty concept of allowing consumers to go and read the package and say “Hmmm beef with hormones or beef without hormones” wouldn’t even get started since ConAgra would not allow it and the FDA / USDA would say “OK! No labelling required!” Same debate over meat irradiation. Another complete scam. They don’t have to label irradiated meat because they say its no different. Well, ain’t that a hoot. Meat irradiation only allows to cover up for poor handling practice. When you gut a cow and you get shit on the meat that cow has to be destroyed since the fecal matter will bloom and contaminate the meat. Now, with the “magic” of irradiation, you can make sure the shit won’t bloom. It will just stay at 100PPM forever. So, yeah, there is shit on your meat, but it’s just a little bit. Why force the industry to have safer handling practices? They won’t like it.

    As an aside to that, ConAgra runs meat production for the EU too. And at those times, the meat process line travels MUCH slower since the EU demands certain safe handling practices. The corps cares about money. The US likes unsafe meat with shit? Sell it to them. The EU likes safe meat? They do that too. All they do is charge a little bit more.

    Yes, you can compare any two things that you like, but as my argument claimed, it is intellectually dishonest to compare the interests of society (influenza, plague, measels) to the interests of ConAgra getting an extra 300 pounds of meat from a cow. It is foolish to equate them. It’s akin to the pros of wearing seat belts as a safety measure and the rights of GM to charge more for diesel engines. There is no baseline comparisson.

    And, aside from you having the incorrect opinion, I’m cool with that. Opinions are like assholes… everyone has one and they all stink.

  7. bobbo says:

    #39–named==once again, I read your post and find good information and that we basically agree. Such a negative tone you assume. Do you have to have your ass kissed before you can discuss anything?

    I assume the irradiated meat ecoli are ppm but they are dead and so just more protein? That may be biologically correct, but should consumers be free to make that choice or not? I think they should, you report that we are not. Well, that raises a political issue==the law should be changed.

    I could address more of your post, but since I’m not Lou, I’ll stop waiving that red flag in your bullish face.

  8. Named says:


    Negative? Moi?

    No. Irradiated ecoli are not more “protein”. It’s more shit. But, if you like shit on your meat, you’re golden. Cause you’re getting it. Now, consumers should always be given the “choice” as to what you want to buy. But the corps like ConAgra and Monsanto make sure that the consumer doesn’t HAVE that choice.

    And the law should be changed. There are many laws that should be changed. Unfortunately, in the US, the government is run by the corps.

    Methinks you’re feeling too sensitive today. Honestly, this is a web site with dummies clacking away at keyboards, myself included…. As XKCD said… “Someone is wrong on the Internet!”

  9. Paddy-O says:

    I could care less about this particular issue.

    “November 25, 2008 Restricted documents seen by The Daily Telegraph, show Paris will demand subsidies to French farmers are protected before agreeing to allow global free trade talks to take place next month.”


  10. LibertyLover says:

    #37, the producer should be responsible to prove their technique / product is safe.

    Agreed. At one time there were private entities that inspected beef — specifically to satisfy foreign countries who were screaming about America quarantining imported animals due to disease.

    Meat Inspection Act 1891
    The Act required inspection of beef that was shipped interstate – reassuring consumers (foreign and domestic) that beef was safe.
    The Act raised relative costs of large meatpackers because the small within state
    butchers and slaughterhouses not affected.

    The bill was aimed at the large meatpackers:

    1. ranchers alleged that meatpackers had
    market power because cattle prices had been falling;

    2. butchers alleged that the
    meatpackers shipped diseased beef.

    There is no evidence that meatpackers had market power but prices were falling. On
    the diseased beef issue: economic logic would suggest that meatpackers would not
    use diseased beef because it would ruin their site-specific investments. There is also
    no secondary evidence, e.g. newspaper accounts, indicating that the people were
    getting food poisoning.

    Like the Sherman Act the motivation for the Meat Inspection Act appears to have
    been to help cattle ranchers, farmers, who raised cattle for markets, and butchers
    rather than being an act to protect consumers. Consumers seldom clamor for legislation when prices are falling which was the case for beef during the 1880s.

    The Federal Government took over the inspection process because the meatpackers claimed it was too expensive to hire the (cottage) industry of meat inspectors that popped up due to the legislation. “You’re making us inspect this stuff. You do it or we’ll go out of business.”

    Socialize the costs, privatize the profits.

  11. /T. says:

    #34 Paddy-O

    “I could care less about this particular issue.”

    The phrase is …

    “I could NOT care less …”

    If you could care less, it implies that you care at least some.

    Sorry … pet peeve.


  12. Mr. Fusion says:

    #42, Cow-Paddy,

    I could care less about this particular issue.

    Then do us all a favor and STFU.

  13. Paddy-O says:

    # 45 Mr. Fusion said, “Then do us all a favor and STFU.”

    Still a little miffed at being owned on the Blago thread I see.

    Remember, I told you a while ago about your rabies vaccination being overdue….

  14. Mr. Fusion says:

    #43, LL,

    Actually there was considerable newspaper as well as Congressional concern about meat packing.

    BTW, Upton Sinclair is widely regarded as the impetus for the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. His book, The Jungle was actually a fiction novel but upset so many people they reacted with speed that was only surpassed when Congress declared war on Japan. I guess the truth takes a little longer than fiction.

  15. MikeN says:

    #19 QB
    I was just echoing the claims by liberals with regards to taxes. That behavior doesn’t change based on taxes, and therefore lower taxes doesn’t yield economic growth.

  16. Mr. Fusion says:

    #46, Cow-Paddy,

    Still irrelevant.

    I see your picture is now making the rounds. Geeze, you’re a handsome fella.

  17. Named says:


    Government sponsored health care? Why, that’s the language of the devil! Or, more appropriately, the civilized.

  18. Paddy-O says:

    # 51 Named said, “Government sponsored health care?”

    I don’t know of any country where the Gov’t pays for health care.

  19. Mr. Fusion says:

    #52, Cow-Paddy,

    I don’t know of any country where the Gov’t pays for health care.

    Then you don’t know very much do you. Even in the United States we pay taxes that are used for Medicare and Medicaid, Veterans Health Care, and Federal Employees Health Plans.

    PLUS, every other Western nation pays for their citizen’s health care.

    Don’t you ever get tired of being the fool?

  20. Paddy-O says:

    # 53 Mr. Fusion said, “Then you don’t know very much do you. ”

    Actually, I do. The government doesn’t pay. The citizens do. The gov’t just takes from their pockets as the middle man.

    There. Maybe, you just learned something about economics, for a change..


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