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From: TSS ()
Subject: New BSE rule worries EU, JPN '' it would be difficult for Japan to support the proposal.''
Date: April 8, 2005 at 1:55 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: New BSE rule worries EU, JPN '' it would be difficult for Japan to support the proposal.''
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005 15:32:35 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

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

New BSE rule worries EU, JPN

Europe ; Japan experts concerned about mad cow rule change:

April 8, 2005

[Europe News] TOKYO, A Japanese government panel on mad cow disease
expressed concerns on Friday about a proposal from an international
animal health body that countries should not use the disease as an
excuse to restrict trade in boneless beef.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), a Paris-based
organisation of 167 member countries that addresses safety issues
related to livestock, would submit the proposal at its general assembly
from May 22 to 27, Japanese government officials said.

OIE standards have no binding force, but they could be used as grounds
to settle trade disputes argued before the World Trade Organisation, for
instance if the United States brings a case against Japan over a
prolonged Japanese ban on American beef.

Japan banned beef imports from the United States in December 2003 after
the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, formally known
as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Before the ban, Japan was the top overseas customer for U.S. beef,
buying $1.4 billion worth in 2003.

Washington has expressed frustration Japan's beef ban was still in place
despite an agreement to re-open the market. Some U.S. lawmakers have
called for retaliatory sanctions against Japan.

Japan agreed last October to resume imports of U.S. beef from cattle
aged below 21 months without requiring mad cow testing, as young cattle
are considered to be at low risk from the disease.

Japan has said it cannot implement the agreement before it obtains
approval from Japan's independent Food Safety Commission, which is
expected to spend several months to check if U.S. mad cow safety
measures meet Japanese standards.

Both the United States and Japan are OIE members.

In a draft proposal, OIE said veterinary administrations should not
require any BSE-related conditions when authorising import or transit of
deboned skeletal muscle meat from cattle which were not subjected to a
stunning or pithing process.

Mechanically separated meat are exempted from this rule.


Under the current OIE standards, importers can require mad cow testing
or other safeguard measures when they buy beef from countries where BSE
is found.

Japanese experts who attended the BSE panel meeting on Friday said the
OIE proposal was based on an outdated view that boneless meat is free
from BSE-causing prions -- the protein-like fragments that transmit the

"The proposal does not reflect the latest scientific knowledge," said
Kazuya Yamanouchi, who is also a member of the BSE subcommittee of
Japan's Food Safety Commission.

Yamanouchi and other panel members said BSE-causing prions were detected
in peripheral nerves in recent research.

The OIE proposal is in line with the United States' view.

The United States has urged countries that have banned American beef due
to mad cow disease to accept imports of boneless beef. Taiwan will begin
allowing on April 16 imports of U.S. boneless beef from animals
slaughtered under 30 months of age.

The Japanese government would decide its official stance on the OIE
proposal based on opinions from the expert panel as well as consumers,
farmers and the food industry, officials said.

Agriculture Minister Yoshinobu Shimamura said given stiff consumer
opposition to relaxing mad cow safety measures, it would be difficult
for Japan to support the proposal.

"We have to act by fully considering consumers' opinions," Shimamura was
quoted by a ministry official as saying at a news conference on Friday.


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