Experts try to end German fears on beef: Import threat over 'mad cow disease'
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Monday 07 March 1994
Following repeated threats by the German health minister, Horst Seehofer, to ban British beef exports, officials from both countries will meet in Brussels to resolve differences over the perceived health risks from the disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an attempt to avert a trade war.
Mr Seehofer said last week on German television that his country had to take maximum precautions to protect people's health, which meant a ban on animal and meat imports from Britain. 'The talks will be very difficult,' he said. 'The British and (other European Union countries) believe the current measures are sufficient but I don't believe that.'
He said the use of cattle entrails in the production of baby food was of concern. 'Here too - irrespective of whether the EU agrees or not - we will ban the use of entrails (in the production of baby food).'
The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food had said before Mr Seehofer's most recent comments that a unilateral ban on British beef by Germany would be a breach of the Treaty of Rome, which underpins free trade within the EU.
Gillian Shephard, the agriculture minister, said there was no scientific justification for banning British beef and no evidence of a link between BSE in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a degenerative brain disorder in humans.
'The action Germany appears to be contemplating would be contrary to community law and is technically indefensible. I have made this clear to the federal government and urged the (European) Commission to act swiftly to discourage such a step,' Mrs Shephard said.
Scientists at Germany's Federal Health Office, which advises the ministry on technical issues, believe a ban is necessary because there is no guarantee that people who eat British beef are free from the risk of developing CJD.
A spokesman from the Federal Health Office said: 'We say that because we cannot be absolutely sure that BSE is not hazardous to humans, we have to take measures to minimise or abolish every kind of risk.' This meant curbing British beef imports.
Scientists in Britain and elsewhere, however, point out that there is no proved link between BSE and CJD. They believe experiments that have failed to transmit the BSE agent from the meat of BSE cattle to laboratory animals demonstrate that the risk of contracting the agent by eating beef is non-existent or minimal.
German scientists, however, argue that BSE has passed in the food chain from infected meat to other animals, such as cats, which means humans could be just as vulnerable.
Mr Seehofer said there was no cause for public hysteria. 'If in a few years, a ban turns out to be superfluous because we find out that BSE cannot spread to people, so much the better.'
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...