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From: TSS (216-119-132-111.ipset12.wt.net)
Subject: BSE policy hijacked by meat industry
Date: October 17, 2004 at 7:12 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: BSE policy hijacked by meat industry
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 21:02:58 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
To: BSE-L@UNI-KARLSRUHE.DE


##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

BSE policy hijacked by meat industry

------------------------------------------------------------------------


Yomiuri Shimbun

Ruling coalition Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers with vested
interests in the livestock industry have ignored the judgment of food
safety experts in watering down the government's new policy on mad cow
disease.

The government unveiled Friday a package of new measures on the disease,
formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, that calls for
discontinuing the current practice of blanket testing for the disease by
exempting cattle aged 20 months or younger.

The government's new policy is generally considered appropriate based on
a report by experts of the Food Safety Commission in the Cabinet Office.

However, the only exception is that the government added a plan to
subsidize the full costs for local governments that want to keep testing
all cows domestically for three years.

It is apparent that a majority of the local governments in the country
will want to continue blanket testing. This means blanket testing will
be not discontinued for domestic cattle, and that the government will
allow different safety measures--a kind of double standard--for imported
and domestic beef.

Discussions will soon begin on when to lift the ban on the import of
U.S. beef from cattle younger than 20 months. After imports are resumed,
tested Japanese and untested U.S. beef will be sold on the domestic
market, though both will come from cattle less than 20 months old. It is
likely to cause public confusion at meat counters all over the country.

===

Subsidization is endorsement

Local governments cannot be stopped from continuing the blanket BSE
testing with their own money. However, if the central government
subsidizes all the test costs for them, it is tantamount to state
endorsement of continuation of the blanket testing.

Such an excessive measure, which might send the wrong message to other
countries, should be withdrawn immediately.

The Food Safety Commission has spent a lot of time on discussions and
finally decided to discontinue blanket testing. In Japan, all 3.5
million cows sent to market in the last three years were tested and 14
were found to be infected with BSE. Of them, the youngest cow was 21
months old.

In Europe, a majority of countries test cattle only 24 to 30 months old
or over.

Also, abnormal prions, the cause of BSE, are said to concentrate in the
brain, spinal cord and a few other organs. The global understanding is
that it is safe to eat beef from cows from which these dangerous parts
have been removed.

In Japan, such dangerous parts are removed from all beef cattle, and
this measure will continue even after blanket testing ends.

The commission has made the latest decision after studying all those
facts in a comprehensive manner.

===

Division of responsibilities

The commission's job is to evaluate the safety of food, while the
Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, and the Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries Ministry take actual measures to control risks based on the
commission's evaluation. This division of roles was supposedly decided
based on a lesson learned from the first BSE outbreak three years ago.

Nevertheless, some LDP lawmakers have forced the government to alter its
BSE policy to serve the interests of the livestock industry.

It should be remembered that an excessive measure taken to protect the
livestock industry allowed some meat companies to receive government
subsidies illicitly after the first BSE outbreak was reported.

It is a fact that the plan to discontinue blanket testing has prompted
many consumers to express concern about the safety of beef.

Those in charge of the BSE issue should provide consumers a thorough
explanation of the reasons behind the new policy and try their best to
eliminate public concerns about food safety.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 17 tss)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20041017wo81.htm

TSS

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