The European Parliament approved a deal between the EU and both the United States and Canada on hormone-treated beef on Wednesday, ending one of the trading powers' oldest disputes. The European Union had banned imports of beef from cattle treated with growth hormones in 1900, and the U.S. and Canada responded with steep sanctions worth $125 million on European products.

The EU and Washington had agreed in 2009 that the 27-member bloc would keep its ban on hormone-treated beef but that the U.S. would gradually lift its sanctions in exchange for a steep rise in the EU's duty-free import quotas of hormone-free beef.

The volumes of hormone-free beef exempted from taxes were put at 20,000 tons that year and are due to be lifted to 48,200 tons by August 2012, of which 45,000 tons for U.S. beef and 3,200 tons for Canadian imports, reports Reuters.

The EU has insisted its ban on hormone-treated beef, which is largely approved by EU consumers, rests on scientific evidence of health risks, though the United States and Canada reject such evidence.

The main beneficiaries of the lifting of the U.S. sanctions are expected to be Italy, Poland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, France and Spain, the EU Parliament said in a statement.

The Council of Ministers still needs to rubber-stamp the decision but it already gave its informal approval, the Parliament said. Speaking to lawmakers before the vote, EU farm chief Dacian Ciolos said he hoped the deal would lead to a definitive resolution of the hormone-treated beef dispute at the World Trade Organization.

Source: Reuters