A British veterinary report on the use of growth hormones in cattle found there's no scientific justification for a generic ban, www.meatnews.com reports. However, the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) reports gaps in evidence, which the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) says merits a precautionary approach, despite the agency's broad agreement with the report.

The compounds, which make livestock gain weight more quickly on less feed and can decrease the amount of fat in the meat, are commonly used in the U.S. They've banned from use in the EU for 20 years ostensibly because of the difficulties in determining safe levels of growth hormone residues in the meat.

The VPC, which advises the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Health Ministers, and the FSA, was asked in 2002 to re-examine this issue and advise the European Commission on whether the science justifies the ban. FSA says there's no indication the generic EU ban will be lifted, but should there be any prospect of lifting it, the agency would call for a case-by-case risk assessment of each hormone before it could be granted authorization.
-- Joe Roybal