Europe extends BST ban

European ministers have voted to extend the ban on the controversial milk-boosting drug for cattle, bovine somatotropin (BST), until the year 2000.

The genetically engineered drug is a flagship product of the struggling biotechnology industry. It is produced by several companies, including Monsanto and Eli Lilly, who between them have invested millions of pounds in its development.

BST was approved for commerical use in the US last year, where reaction from consumers, farmers and retailers to use of the drug has been cool.

On Thursday, the Council of Ministers said it wanted BST manufacturers to collect more "scientific data" on its effect on treated cows. Britain and Denmark voted against the ban. This is despite a ruling last year by the Committee for Veterinary and Medicinal Products that there were no animal or human health grounds on which it would prevent the drug's use.