In a move that has been sowing discord for months, the European Union has put Brazil squarely face-to-face with its responsibilities, suspending all new imports of Brazilian beef.
In December, the European Commission announced that as of January 31, 2008, imports would no longer be authorized unless they came from one of a list of farms that comply with European health regulations.
On "D-Day," EU Commissioner for Health Markos Kyprianou declared that there was no satisfactory list at the moment. "That means that, as of right now, no farm will be allowed to export to the European Union," he added.
This measure echoed demands from Britain and Ireland, which had condemned problems with traceability of Brazilian beef given that the country is affected by foot-and-mouth disease.
While the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture denounced the suspension, calling it "unjustifiable and arbitrary," Brazilian giant JBS-Friboi, the world's leading beef distributor, hastened to announce that it would be increasing its equity in foreign companies to circumvent the European embargo and thereby compensate for the shortfall in earnings.
The fact still remains that it is dangerous, in terms of food security, to concentrate the majority of global beef production in just a few large farms around the world that do not comply with international standards for hygiene and traceability.