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From: TSS ()
Date: November 1, 2005 at 1:03 pm PST

Japan unlikely to ease mad cow guards
Wednesday Nov 2 05:48 AEST
Japan's new Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa has said he is reluctant to ease safety measures against mad cow disease.

This was even if the United States urges Japan to do so in order to normalise beef trade.

Japan is set to ease a ban on US beef imports after a panel at Japan's independent Food Safety Commission said that beef from American cattle aged 20 months or younger is safe if risk materials that could transmit mad cow disease are removed.

If Japan limits imports to beef from these younger cattle, the volume of imports is likely to be only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the amount Japan imported before the ban was imposed in 2003, government and industry officials estimate.

The United States intends to raise the cattle age limit to 30 months in future talks with Japan to increase exports, they say.

Nakagawa acknowledged that safety measures against mad cow disease in Japan are stricter than internationally accepted standards. However, he said it would be difficult to ease food safety regulations if Japanese consumers want strict rules and if Japanese scientists support them.

"Relaxing regulations will produce a negative result if the action deepens consumer concerns (about food safety)," Nakagawa told reporters.

Japan imposed a ban on US beef and beef products in December 2003 after the first US case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state.

Before the ban, Japan was the top importer of US beef.

In 2003, it imported 240,000 tonnes of US beef then valued at $US1.4 billion ($A1.87 billion), about one-quarter of total Japanese beef demand.

Nakagawa said that even if Japan resumes US beef imports, the government might ban them again if it discovers any violation of the agreement.

"It will be a matter of trust in the US system," he said.

In October last year Japan agreed with the United States to resume imports of beef from cattle aged 20 months or younger, pending approval by the Food Safety Commission.

The younger cattle are considered to be at low risk from mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The two countries also agreed that specified risk materials, such as bovine heads and spinal cords, must be removed from cattle of all ages before the meat is shipped to Japan.

Nakagawa, 52, a former trade minister, is taking up the post of farm minister for a second time.

Importation of Whole Cuts of Boneless Beef from Japan [Docket No. 05-004-1] RIN 0579-AB93 TSS SUBMISSION below

seems EPA mad cow urls are dead again, here is link;


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