Two decades have passed, and the EU continues to resist. Its illegal ban on U.S. beef has stayed in place, and the retaliatory tariffs have caused American consumers to pay more than they should for Roquefort cheese and other imports.

We need to try a new approach–and a broad-based free-trade agreement between the United States and the EU is exactly the right forum for dealing with the problem.

The good news is that although a pact would benefit both sides, the Europeans appear to want one desperately. That means they may be unusually willing to alter their hardline stance on beef, which their officials know to be wrongheaded.

We’ve already seen at least one initial concession. The EU recently lifted a ban on meat washed with lactic acid, which safely removes contaminants such as E. coli from food. This was another unscientific prohibition of a common practice in the United States

These important steps suggest that larger compromises could come soon.

In free-trade negotiations, agriculture is usually one of the trickiest sectors–and it will definitely be the toughest part of any deal with the EU. In addition to the ban on beef, we must also confront the EU’s politically (not science or health)-based resistance to biotech crops.

There is a great price to be paid by all when countries allow non-scientific trade barriers to stay in place. Reduced investment in productivity enhancing technologies and reduced trade between countries are just the tip of the iceberg. Unless we work together to make sure that politics and perceptions are not allowed to over-ride science, the price for global food security will also go up.

Right now, however, anything looks possible–and anybody who lays eyes on the meat section of a European grocery store will see how much we all have to gain.

Hope Pjesky and her family are farmers / ranchers in northern Oklahoma where they raise cattle and wheat. Hope volunteers as a board member for Truth About Trade & Technology (www.truthabouttrade.org). Follow us: @TruthAboutTrade on Twitter | Truth About Trade & Technology on Facebook.

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