Mad Cow Panic Spills Into Spain
By Isambard Wilkinson and Toby Helm
Europe's mad cow panic has reached Spain, with consumption falling by one sixth and beef prices dropping by nearly one third in a week.
Spanish beef farmers have demanded that the agriculture ministry spearhead a campaign to persuade the public of the safety of beef. They want it funded by the European Union, with contributions from those countries, such as Britain, where BSE has been detected.
The Spanish government has already banned imports of cattle aged over 20 months from France and Ireland. The decline in consumption provides new evidence of the panic now gripping consumers and political leaders across the European Union.
Italy and France are both suffering similar scares and the BSE debate erupted again yesterday in Germany, where the Cabinet disagreed over an import ban on British beef, lamb and animal-based cattle feeds. Andrea Fischer, health minister and Green Party member, was insisting that Germany should keep open the option of imposing a string of unilateral embargoes, including one on British lamb.
But Karl-Heinz Funke, the agriculture minister, said that Germany had nothing to gain by going it alone in defiance of EU policy. The German parliament, under the threat of EU legal action, reluctantly lifted its previous ban on British beef imports earlier this year after successfully pressing for a labelling regime specifying the source of beef and beef produce.
Germany has so far been free of BSE.

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