BSE - PORTUGAL (04)
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 04:04:44 -0500
Source: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy list
Via: Robert A. LaBudde
The European Commission on Wednesday recommended a worldwide ban on
exports of Portuguese beef and live cattle in response to a rise in
the number of cases of mad cow disease. The European Union executive
sought to bar exports of live cattle for 18 months, while banning meat
exports for up to nine months. The main elements are ... an embargo on
the export of live animals and a limited export ban on meat and other
products. These measures were part of a package required to stop the
BSE crisis. The number of notified new cases of bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) in Portugal is close to 70 so far this year and
likely to rise to 100 by December. Apparently it was the alarming
increase in the incidence of BSE that forced the Commission to act.
Portugal is not a major beef exporter. It sold just 3,000 tonnes in
1997, most of it to Spain which has already closed its border under
unilateral health measures allowed by EU law.
But the move is another blow to Europe's beef industry, still reeling
from Britain's mad cow scare, which resulted in the EU banning its
worldwide exports in March 1996.
The Commission's recommendation will be put to a committee of EU vets
on Friday which, officials said, was expected to endorse the plan. The
measures will not enter into force until a majority of the 15-nation
EU's farm ministers vote for the package. They are next due to meet on
Portugal was quick to denounce the ban.
"It is a measure that warrants the profound disagreement of the
Portuguese government and which I consider wrong, exaggerated and out
of proportion," Farm Minister Luis Capoula Santos told reporters in
Lisbon. Capoula Santos had warned earlier this week that Portugal
would lodge a vigorous appeal against any embargo.
The article went on to say that Lisbon recently presented the
Commission with a new plan to eradicate the disease and has stressed
it is not a high-risk country in terms of the incidence of the
disease, compared with Britain, which is still fighting to lift an EU
ban on its beef exports. Portugal has so far reported some 160 cases
of BSE in cattle against about 175,000 cases in Britain.
Capoula Santos said the cases now emerging in Portugal were those of
cows infected five or six years ago before Portugal had any
Other measures in the Commission package included a total ban on the
use of meat and bone meal in animal feed and the removal of so-called
specified risk material such as spinal cord from abattoirs. Fischler
pressed for the embargo after EU inspections in May and September
revealed serious failings in Portugal's controls over animal feed. The
Commission said it would help Portugal foot the bill for implementing
the measures. "We have agreed a proposal to take into account some of
the economic implications. As soon as investment is undertaken (to
fight the spread of BSE) we will consider helping them," said
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
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