The European Community Council of Ministers on Tuesdayextended the ban on the use of bovine somatotropin (BST) inthe 12-nation European Community through December 1993.

The ministers based their decision on an EC Commission reportthat details potential economic effects of BST on the productionand consumption of milk products. The hormone increases milkproduction in cows.

The politics of BST, stymied in the United States primarily byconcern about its impact on small dairy farmers, is at least ascomplex in Europe. The EC report said increased milkproduction might not be consistent with the community'sCommon Agricultural Policy. Furthermore, the report warns,European consumer organizations oppose the use of BSTwithout labeling requirements. "A sharp downturn inconsumption of milk products could be expected" if thehormone were approved, the report concluded.

According to the commission, "Certain aspects of animal welfareneed to be further clarified."

Monsanto Agricultural Co. had received approval for its BST bythe Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products last March.Although CVMP approval is required to seek marketingapproval in individual EC nations, further action was halted bythe ban.

Monsanto spokesman Tom McDermott said that the decision toextend the moratorium has more to do with agricultural policy-- "desires to keep supplies in line" -- than with the safety ofBST.

Monsanto is not abandoning Europe, said McDermott. "No oneknows what the world will look like two years from now. It isentirely possible there will be a change in feeling about animalproductivity enhancers between now and then. We do feel thatultimately we will be successful in Europe."

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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