The US has sought to impress upon India to lift the ban on American poultry products, arguing that they do not pose a human health risk as is being asserted by India.

“The United States maintains that the presence of paratuberculosis in dairy products does not pose a human health risk, and India should not make elimination of this bacterium a condition for issuing a sanitary export certificate for US dairy products,” the US Trade Representatives (USTR) has said in a report.

Since 2003, it said, India has imposed unwarranted SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) requirements on dairy imports, which have essentially precluded US access to India’s dairy market, one of the largest in the world.

For example, India requires the US Government to certify that any US-origin milk destined for India has been treated to ensure the destruction of paratuberculosis, which according to India, is linked to Crohn’s Disease.

“Despite repeated requests from the United States, India has not provided scientific evidence to substantiate this assertion, and has declined to take into account evidence to the contrary submitted by the United States,” the report said.

The Indian import certificate for pork requires that importers make an attestation that the imported pork does not contain any residues of pesticides, veterinary drugs, mycotoxins, or other chemicals above the MRLs prescribed in international standards, the report said.

However, these certificates fail to identify specific compounds and their corresponding international limits, the USTR said.

The US has requested India’s authorities to perform a risk assessment to support its restrictions on pork imports and continues to press India to lift the restrictions, it added.

Observing that India maintains zero-tolerance standards for certain plant quarantine pests such as weed seeds and ergot, which block US wheat and barley imports, the report said bilateral discussions to resolve these issues, including at the senior official level, have achieved little success to date.

On June 28, 2011, US and Indian officials discussed this issue, and India agreed to collaborate further by exchanging ergot strains and testing them on barley under controlled conditions, it said.

Referring to its March 6 request for consultations with India under the dispute settlement provisions of WTO regarding import prohibitions on certain US agricultural exports, the report said India’s import prohibitions are purportedly for the purpose of preventing the entry of avian influenza.

“The United States is concerned that India has not provided a valid, scientifically-based justification for the import prohibitions,” it said.