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From: TSS (
Subject: JAPAN--Agreement on blanket BSE testing elusive
Date: August 19, 2004 at 1:26 pm PST

Agreement on blanket BSE testing elusive

Yomiuri Shimbun

Consumers, distributors, restaurant operators and bureaucrats were divided Wednesday over the blanket testing of beef cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, undermining efforts to resume beef imports from the United States any time soon.

At a meeting Wednesday to exchange views on the matter between the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Health, Labor and Welfare ministries, and consumers, distributors and other parties, no agreement was reached on whether to end the blanket testing of cows for BSE.

As a result, the Japan-U.S. bureau chief-level talks aimed at paving the way for the resumption of beef imports from the United States are very likely to be postponed to after September.

About 250 people, including consumer representatives, distributors, restaurant operators and officials from the two ministries, attended the meeting.

Hiroshi Nakagawa, head of the agriculture ministry's Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau, stressed the importance of having government policy reflect the opinions expressed in the meeting between consumers and the ministries.

In July, Japanese and U.S. experts met to compile a report stating that abnormal prions believed to be the pathogen that causes the disease could not be detected in young cattle even if such cattle were tested.

The discussion at the most recent meeting focused on whether to continue the blanket testing, taking the report into consideration.

Toshiko Kanda, head of the National Liaison Committee of Consumers' Organizations, said the blanket testing was still necessary for the time being as many problems related to BSE remained unknown.

Masae Wada of the Housewives' Association said at the meeting that blanket tests should not be removed in connection with the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

A company president said that as safety had been ensured with the exception of specific high-risk cattle parts, such as brains, tax money should not be spent on the ineffective testing of young cattle.

A trading house employee said that since this was not an era in which Japan could have its own way, Japan should try to coexist and prosper with the United States while continuing to try to ensure food safety.


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