- PARIS (AFP) - French Environment
Minister Dominique Voynet has called for an "immediate moratorium"
on the use of bone meal in animal feed for poultry and pigs.
- "I ask for an immediate moratorium on the use of
bone meal in feeding pigs and poultry, (while we await) the response from
the French food safety agency (AFSSA)," Voynet said in an interview
with the daily Le Monde, to be published Sunday.
- Animal grounds and bone meal are considered at the root
of the "mad cow" disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE) problem, and fears have been raised that the disease could jump species
- Voynet said it was "the responsibility of the government
to take measures ... to reassure our citizens."
- Her position was apparently contrary to that of the government
of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, which is awaiting a report from AFSSA
before making a decision on the use of bone meal.
- But the goverment may still impose a moratorium on bone
meal in "the next few days," the paper wrote.
- Asked about an eventual permanent ban, Voynet said "we
will decide that according to AFSSA's opinion, which is expected in three
- A permanent ban on bone meal would cost France between
three and five billion francs (457 and 762 million euros, 393 and 654 million
dollars), a joint estimate by the environment and agriculture ministries
- Voynet also accused British industrialists of irresponsibility,
who "believed they could decide that cows were no longer herbivores
but omnivores. Today we're paying the consequences of that irresponsibility."
- Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said Friday a bone
meal man was inevitable, but that it should be made as "an inclusive,
intelligent, and serious decision. We will take the decision when we are
ready to take it."
- Meanwhile, customers on Saturday flocked to the Batignolles
organic food market in the fashionable 17th arrondissement in Paris, apparently
seeking reassurance from the food scares by choosing organic products.
- "Our customers know already that the other (non-organic
butchers) are crazy," one of the butchers there told AFP.
- Organic food made up one percent of France's national
food sales in 1999, but the national federation of organic agriculture
said it expected that figure to rise to five percent by 2005.
- Alarm over mad cow disease has spread quickly since it
was revealed last month that eight tons of meat potentially contaminated
with BSE had been sold to French supermarkets.
- President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday further put pressure
on the Jospin government to take action by calling for an immediate ban
on bone meal in animal feed.
- French authorities have said that a complete ban on meat-
and bone-meal feed could be implemented following a probe by the state
food safety authority which could take up to four months.
- Paris's main wholesale market has reported that beef
sales declined by 41 percent in the last five weeks, and a new industry
study Thursday showed a drop of 30 percent in beef consumption nationally
in the week to November 5.
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