- TOKYO (AP) -- Japan questioned
the effectiveness of U.S. safeguards against mad cow disease Monday, suggesting
Tokyo would hold out for stricter U.S. screening of livestock before lifting
its ban on American beef.
- After the discovery of the first U.S. case of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, last month, the United States imposed
new restrictions aimed at keeping any tainted meat from entering the food
- But vice agriculture minister, Yoshiaki Watanabe, indicated
the U.S. action hasn't quieted concerns in Japan about the safety of American
- "They are not as effective as steps being taken
in Japan," Watanabe told a news conference on Monday.
- Tokyo halted imports of U.S. beef immediately after last
month's discovery of BSE in a cow in Washington state. The ban left U.S.
beef producers without their biggest export market, estimated to be worth
- The United States tests only a small percentage of the
35 million cattle slaughtered a year, targeting older animals or ones that
show symptoms of the disease. Japan has screened all 1.3 million cows processed
as food each year since discovering its first case of the bovine brain-wasting
illness two years ago.
- U.S. agriculture officials have suggested comprehensive
screening of all beef to be eaten by people would be unnecessary and costly.
- The mad cow scare has hit restaurant chains in Japan
that depend heavily on U.S. beef and forced many to consider switching
suppliers and offering alternatives.
- On Monday, Japan's agriculture ministry said it plans
to send envoys to Australia and New Zealand this week to ask about buying
more of their beef.
- Japan imports about two-thirds of its beef, and around
47 percent, or more than 226,000 tons, came from the United States last
year. The rest comes mostly from Australia and New Zealand, neither of
which has had a reported case of mad cow disease.
- Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe
Inc. All rights reserved.