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From: TSS ()
Subject: OIE BSE RULE CHANGES NOTHING JAPAN SAYS ! THAT IS SOUND SCIENCE...TSS
Date: May 27, 2005 at 1:56 pm PST

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


JPN - OIE BSE rule changes nothing

Japan says beef policy unaffected by new BSE rule

TOKYO, May 27, 2005 (Reuters) - Japan's Agriculture Ministry said on Friday it would not modify conditions for easing a ban on U.S. beef, shrugging off new guidelines on beef trade and the risk of mad cow disease set by the world animal health body.

Japan plans to resume imports of beef from American cattle aged up to 20 months without requiring mad cow testing. Specified risk material (SRM), such as bovine heads and spinal cords, must be removed from all slaughtered cattle before shipment to Japan.


Japan imposed a ban on U.S. beef in December 2003 following the discovery of a case of mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in Washington state.

Before the ban, Japan was the top importer of American beef, with imports valued at $1.4 billion in 2003.

U.S. lawmakers have expressed growing frustration with Japan's slowness in reopening its market, and some have proposed that Washington consider trade sanctions.

The Japanese requirements on U.S. beef are tighter than the new guidelines set on Thursday by the world animal health organisation OIE.

Under the new guidelines, countries are allowed to export deboned red meat from cattle under 30 months old regardless of each respective nation's mad cow status.

Apart from the under-30-month rule and deboning, animals will have to undergo ante- and post-mortem inspections and measures must be in place to ensure no contamination with other riskier animal parts.

OIE guidelines are non-binding on its 167 members, but are often used by the World Trade Organisation for settling cross-border trading disputes involving animal health issues.

Asked by reporters if the new guidelines would have an effect on the issue of U.S. beef import resumption, Agriculture Minister Yoshinobu Shimamura replied he did not expect anything special.

"We have already brought the case to the Food Safety Commission, who are going to discuss the issue from various points of view," Shimamura was quoted by a ministry official as saying at a news conference on Friday.

On Tuesday, the Japanese government asked the Food Safety Commission to approve a resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The commission will soon start reviewing U.S. safety measures against mad cow disease to determine if they meet Japanese standards, a process experts say could take several months.

The government cannot intervene directly in the decisions of the commission, an independent body of experts who conduct risk assessments of food scientifically and make policy recommendations to relevant ministries.

Japan plans to resume U.S. beef imports shortly after getting official approval from the commission.

The human form of mad cow, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), is fatal and believed to be caused by eating infected meat. About 150 cases have been reported around the world.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said on Thursday he hoped the new OIE guidelines would encourage other countries to reopen their market to U.S. beef imports.

"We look forward to working with other countries to amend regulations to reflect these guidelines, which will continue to promote our first objective of safeguarding animal and human health," Johanns said.

The USDA and meat producers have long maintained that appropriate testing measures and feed bans are in place to detect and prevent the spread of the disease.

kticam.com

http://www.ellinghuysen.com/news/articles/17144.shtml

TSS

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