I buy beef from two local sources: from Al Bennett at Meacham and Benlock Farms (which has a booth at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market). I like their meat because it's raised with organic principles and tastes great.
So here's the issue: The European Union has banned beef from Canada and the U.S. because most of the cattle are fed growth hormones (i.e. steroids). The ban is based on fears the hormones are bad for our health. More specifically, that the hormones can affect the male reproductive system and contribute to the rates of colon, prostate and breast cancer.
The World Trade Organization ruled the ban is illegal because there is insufficient scientific evidence to back up the claim that growth hormones in cattle are harmful to people who eat the meat. The WTO ruled that Canada and the U.S. can retaliate against the E.U. by slapping tarrifs on imported foods such as Dijon mustard and Roquefort cheese. (Read more about it here.)
This ban affects Saskatchewan farmers, who produce about 30% of Canada's beef cattle. The U.S. and Canada argue the ban is not really about health, but about protecting the European cattle industry from competition. The Food and Drug Administration has set "accpetable daily intakes" for these hormones at which level it considers them safe for human consumption.
In a newspaper column, Kevin Hursh, a farmer who writes about agricultural issues, sides with Canadian farmers in this dispute but asks: "why can't we produce beef without hormones specifically for the European market?"
Personally, I'd rather not eat meat treated with growth hormones, even at "acceptable" levels. What about you?