Madness again

Published: Friday 28 February 1997

the German government called upon agricultural and health experts to hold an emergency meeting on January 22, following a report of the confirmation of the nation's first case of bse (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or the 'mad cow disease' in a locally-born bovine. Although the diseased cow came from Hxter in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, its mother is believed to have been born in the uk.

But Barbel Hhn, the state agriculture minister, revealed that the where abouts of the cow's mother were unknown. The federal agriculture ministry claimed that there was "no risk to consumers" and that several states like North Rhine-Westphalia have imposed strict controls on all calves of cows originating in the uk. But the government asserted that the case shows that bse can be transmitted from mother to calf.

Germany retains only about 3,000 uk-born cows as import of cattle over the age of six months has been banned since 1990 and younger cattle and beef imports from the uk have been banned recently. The reaction reflects the German government's concern that the incident will compromise the nation's claim to be free of bse.

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