European legislation banning the use in livestock production of beta-agonists and certain hormones (oestradiol 17 and its derivatives plus five others) has been approved by the EU Council of Ministers, which has accepted technical amendments passed by the European Parliament.

Britain abstained, with Spain and Portugal voting against. The move follows longstanding concerns about the use of such feed additives, particularly oestradiol 17, which is used to stimulate growth.

The EU’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health has been advising since 1999 that the substance “should be considered as wholly carcinogenic.”

Ministers have also given the EU Standing Veterinary Committee the power to introduce further bans.