Russia has become embroiled in a bitter trade dispute with the US after suspending US poultry imports on health grounds. Given half of all poultry exports from North America are destined for the Russian market, the suspension has sparked a major row. Russia claims the cheap chicken legs are unsafe because of growth hormones used in US chicken production ­ a claim vigorously denied by the US department of agriculture. US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman said: "US poultry and poultry products meet the highest safety standards in the world. "An unjustified ban on 20% of our overall exports to Russia would be extremely damaging." {{NEWS }}