nvCJD toll: central figure revised upwards to 250,000
Fourth person in France may have mad cow disease
French lawsuit filed as mad cow scare grips
Mad cow disease rears its ugly head in Europe
300,000 pigs in the same building: Holland
Minister challenged on French beef safety
Top French chefs unaffected by mad cow fears
Italy bans French adult cattle, beef-on-bone imports
France to store banned animal feed at army sites
MacDonald's bans GM food used for meat
Sun, Nov 19, 2000 AP WorldStream Map by Pierre Lavie is frequently updated
| A French doctor on Sunday denied newspaper reports that a
fourth person in France may have caught the human version of so-called mad
cow disease, although he said the patient had showed some initial symptoms
of the disease.
The Journal du Dimanche reported Sunday that a seriously ill 43-year-old female patient was being tested for the disease at Lyon's Pierre Wertheimer Hospital, where she has been hospitalized for six weeks and is in a comatose state.
Dr. Guy Chazot, the hospital's chief of neurological services, said at a press conference late Sunday that the patient initially showed problems involving memory and behavior and has been tested for the disease. However, Chazot said he did not believe the patient had contracted the deadly brain-wasting illness, and that such a diagnosis could not be confirmed in any event until a post-mortem examination was conducted. Chazot identified the first case of mad cow in a human being in France in 1996.
Experts believe people contract the human form of mad cow disease -- or variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease -- by eating infected beef. Two people have died from the disease in France and a third is believed to be dying >from it. Both the cow form, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and the human form are varieties of a rare group of brain-wasting diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Such illnesses cause microscopic holes in the brain. There is no cure.
Also Sunday, the Journal published a full-page ad by the French government assuring the public of the safety of beef. The ad included a hotline number that people may call for information on the disease. According to Europe-1 radio, the hotline received 700 calls in the first 13 hours of operation. [For purposes of comparison, www-mad-cow.org has been receiving hits at a million per year over the last few weeks. -- webmaster]
Dozens of Italian farmers rallied on the border with France on Sunday to make sure no beef shipments cross into Italy, which two days earlier banned most French beef imports to prevent the spread of mad cow disease.
"In the middle of all this confusion, we maintain that a blockade of border crossings is the only useful tool to safeguard both the interests of consumers and those of cattle raisers," said Marco Favaro, head of a group of Italian beef producers.
Italian cattle have largely been spared the mad cow problem, with the only two cases that of two animals imported from Britain a few years ago [self-reporting without a testing program -- webmaster] Austria story follows from
9 November 2000 PA NewsAuthorities in Austria are investigating what they believe may be the first human death in the country of new variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease.
Media reports in the country, which is home to European agriculture commissioner Franz Fishler, say that a Carinthian woman may have died of the illness.
The 71-year-old died a few weeks ago in the Carinthian town of Villach but confirmation of the suspected cause of death will not be given until a detailed examination of her body tissue has been carried out. The woman's body has already been cremated by health officials but tissue samples were kept for analysis.
Head of the pathological department at the regional hospital in Villach, Guenter Alpi, has attempted to calm local fears by issuing a statement that there was no danger of the patient passing on the disease by human contact.
Sun, Nov 19, 2000 Reuters World Report By Brian LoveThe French government launched an offensive against fears of "mad cow" meat on Sunday, publishing a full-page newspaper advertisement and a free advice line number that received over 600 calls by midday. But it was a difficult day to assuage consumer panic, with media reports of another case of the human form of the deadly brain-wasting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease.
"Why you can eat beef without fear," said the newspaper advert's headline, with a photograph of a healthy looking cow. It went on to explain all the measures taken by the government in the past decade to contain BSE.
It was far from clear that the advert had inspired much public confidence after last week's official ban on T-bone steaks and the extension of a ban on suspect cattle feeds to all other farm animals. The 15 Sunday morning-staff at the government's toll-free "mad cow" call centre were working flat out. "Sorry I have to go, it's very busy, the phones are buzzing," the woman at the advisory centre said.
The government's counter-attack came on the same day as reports of another case of the deadly human form of mad cow disease -- new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD). A hospital in the city of Lyon in eastern France said it would hold a news conference later on Sunday after the reports that doctors had identified nvCJD in a semi-comatose 45-year-old woman.
The families of two nvCJD victims, one dead and one alive, started a ground-breaking court action on Friday in an attempt to pin the blame on authorities in France and Britain as well as the European Commission in Brussels.
While other types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were spotted in the 1920s in Amazonian villages where funeral rites included eating the brains of the deceased, scientists drew a link between BSE and nvCJD in the mid-1990s. At least 86 people have died in Britain from nvCJD but court action by relatives has been put on ice there as the government works on a compensation package. Three nvCJD cases have been officially recognised in France so far.
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin announced extra food safety measures on Tuesday, after hesitating for several weeks over the need for such drastic action and the risk of worsening the angst of consumers. Beef sales have plummeted by up to 40 percent in the weeks after news last month that meat from a cow infected with BSE got mixed up in a load of beef that landed on the shelves of three major supermarket chains.
That coincided with the discovery by health inspectors of 23 tonnes of rotten duck which was about to be shipped off for sale in packages labelled "Top Quality," and subsequent alerts over dangerous listeria bacteria in sausages and ice cream.
The government banned the use of recycled cattle bones and entrails in feedstuffs for cows 10 years ago and has stepped up other measures against BSE. Despite the new measures, Jospin tried to reassure consumers that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that the suspect bone and meat meal feedstuffs caused BSE-style reactions in chickens or pigs.
Fri, Nov 17, 2000 Reuters North AmericaA French hospital said on Friday it had detected a suspected case of the fatal brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Paris's St Antoine hospital refused to say whether it suspected this was a case of new variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, which would make it the fourth such case in France.
The French daily Figaro, giving details the hospital would not confirm, said a 40-year-old woman, who gave birth to a son on November 9 by caesarean section, had been admitted to St Antoine hospital suffering from depression during her pregnancy. She had since presented symptoms similar to those of CJD, the human form of mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, it said.
"There is a case of suspicion of CJD. For the moment we are waiting the results of a biopsy of the tonsils," said a hospital spokeswoman. "We are taking all the precautions necessary with regard to our patients and personnel," she said, adding that the results of the biopsy were expected in two or three weeks.
According to Figaro, the husband of the woman in hospital met an aide to French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin two weeks ago and Health Minister Dominique Gillot on Wednesday morning. Gillot offered psychological support to the family.
"For two months doctors believed the depression was linked to her pregnancy," the husband, an economics professor of Chilean origin, was quoted as saying. French officials were not immediately available for comment.
Earlier this year a British scientist said reports that cows could pass BSE on to their calves meant it was possible pregnant women with nvCJD could infect their babies.
French officials would not say whether the baby born in the French hospital was suspected to be carrying the disease. A final analysis on whether somebody has nvCJD can only be made with a post mortem examination after the person dies.
Fri, Nov 17, 2000 Reuters Online Service By Paul HolmesThe families of two French victims of the human variant of mad cow disease took their case to court on Friday as Italy slapped a partial ban on imports of French beef in a widening consumer scare over tainted meat.
The legal action could eventually see officials from Britain, France and the European Union placed in the dock on poisoning and manslaughter charges for failing to take action to stem the epidemic among cattle and its transmission to humans.
"People who smoke and drink do so by their own choice," said Dominique Eboli, whose 19-year-old son Arnaud is suspected of having the fatal, brain-wasting disease known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD). "All my son did was eat and he is going to die." The other victim, Laurence Duhamel, died last February.
The "complaint against persons unknown," the first of its kind in France, will trigger a judicial inquiry to establish whether there is a case for a full legal investigation and who might be brought to the courts as the alleged culprits.
It was filed in Paris amid growing consumer panic over mad cow disease in France, where authorities banned suspect animal feed on Tuesday and have taken T-bone steak and other beef dishes off menus in restaurants and schools. The scare, reminiscent of Britain's mad cow crisis in the mid-1990s, broke out last month after three French supermarket chains removed beef >from their shelves over fears it might be contaminated by mad cow disease.
Italy, which imports around one million head of cattle a year from France, announced a partial ban on French beef on Friday in response to the scare.
"We are blocking the import of adult cattle with an age above 18 months," Italian Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said. "There is (also) a block on the import of meat-on-the bone which is the same as that decided by the French government."
Spain took similar action last week and Germany said on Friday that it could not rule out measures of its own. Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to have been introduced into cattle by feeding them ground up carcasses, bone and entrails from other animals.
The French farm ministry announced on Friday that it had recently discovered four new cases of BSE in the country, lifting the number of infected cows found so far this year to 103 against just 30 detected in the whole of 1999.
The jump in new cases is explained largely by the adoption of more rigorous testing methods and France's BSE record pales into insignificance beside Britain's tally, which stands at some 179,000 confirmed cases, including 850 this year.
Scientists have drawn a link between BSE and nvCJD. At least 86 people in Britain and two people in France have died from the new variant of the disease. French media said on Friday that another probable case had come to light at a Paris hospital, but medical authorities later denied that the patient in question was suffering from nvCJD.
Several writs have been issued in Britain against the Health Ministry over the deaths, but the claims have been put on ice until details of government compensation packages are finalized.
A lawyer for two French victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, one dead and one still alive, said on Thursday he would file suit for poisoning in what could turn out to be a high-stakes "mad cow" meat contamination trial. The lawyer for the dead woman's family and the suffering young man said he planned to challenge the French, British and European Union authorities for mishandling a BSE cattle disease outbreak in the 1980s and 1990s.
The ground-breaking legal action comes as France's political leaders struggle to contain a further anxiety crisis over bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or madcow disease, which scientists have linked to a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (nvCJD), a deadly brain-wasting disorder in humans. France has just banned its beloved T-bone steaks and suspect animal feed after revelations that supermarkets had been forced to clear their shelves of beef potentially infected by BSE.
Lawyer Francois Honnorat, representing the families of both Laurence Duhamel, who died at the age of 36 last February, and 19-year-old Creutzfeldt-Jakob sufferer Arnaud Eboli, said that the complaint would be lodged on Friday.
"The plaintiffs' suit cover a whole range of issues showing the lack of action taken to limit the BSE epidemic and the human consequences, at the level of the French authorities, those of the European Union and also in Britain," Honnorat said. "We need to find out urgently whether citizens were fooled or manipulated," Olivier Duplessis, head of an association of CJD victims that is joining the two families in their legal action, told the French magazine Le Point. Honnorat is filing a "complaint against persons unknown", which judicial experts will study to establish whether there is a case for a full-blown legal inquiry and who might be brought to the courts as the alleged culprits.
The lawyer, whose case runs over 100 pages, alleges that British and French authorities and the European Commission in Brussels all passed the buck over a decade of inaction and should now be held to account. He is focusing on the period between 1986, the year when the BSE cattle disease was first identified, and 1996 when its scientists drew a link with the human variant nvCJD.
Honnorat told Reuters he was taking aim at Britain, where an outbreak of BSE led to a foreign embargo on British beef in 1996, because it had sold suspect animal feed to France after banning the same substance itself at the end of the 1980s. The European Commission was in the firing line for stalling for a long time before the first decisions to crack down on the use of ground-up cattle bones and entrails in feedstuffs which were recycled into cattle feed. Honnorat is taking France to task as well for failing to take sufficient action in a timely fashion to halt the risks.
In France, the move brings back harsh memories of a scandal over AIDS-infected blood in the 1980s which led to the trial of several ministers after dozens of haemophiliacs died from blood transfusions. Finance Minister Laurent Fabius, who was prime minister in the mid 1980s, spent over a decade in the political wilderness as he fought his way to acquittal last year in the trial.
Fabius, who made his comeback as finance minister earlier this year, was one of the first cabinet members to advise Prime Minister Lionel Jospin that he should respond to the latest mad cow scare by banning suspect feedstuffs across-the-board.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 By Andrew Woodcock, Political Correspondent, PA NewsTwo families of French victims of variant CJD are planning to sue the British Government for allegedly causing their infection, according to reports in today's French press.
In a civil case backed by the French Association of CJD victims, the families plan to accuse the British, European and French authorities of "poisoning", reports Le Monde.
They will charge the authorities in London, Brussels and Paris with having failed to do enough to ensure the safety of beef over the past 10 years. Papers prepared for the case allege that the British authorities bear a "heavy responsibility" for allowing the export of cattle and meat and bone meal.
It is also alleged that the French government undermined public safety by trying to persuade its people that BSE, mad cow disease, was confined to the UK. The case is being brought by the families of Laurence Duhamel, who died aged 36 in February this year, and Arnaud Eboli, 19, who is currently critically ill with nvCJD the human form of BSE.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair declined to comment on the French lawsuit, saying there had been no formal notification of any action against the British government. The deposition accuses the British and French authorities and the Brussels-based European Commission of passing the buck through a decade of inaction.
It focuses on the period between 1986, the year when the BSE cattle disease was first identified, and 1996 when scientists drew a link with the human variant.
French President Jacques Chirac said he sympathized with the families who have brought the suit. "The recourse to justice in this case is a sort of cry for help," Chirac said in the Correze region of southern France, where he was on a fence-mending visit to cattle farmers. He promised aid to producers whose livelihoods are threatened by plunging beef consumption and said he regretted the unilateral steps Italy had taken.
The leader of France's main farm union, the FNSEA, said he was "scandalized" by Italy's decision. "France holds the presidency of the European Union until the end of the year. It should put its foot down and denounce this sort of decision," the FNSEA's Luc Guyau told Reuters.
France is seeking an EU-wide battle plan against BSE, including a ban on bone and meat meal feeds for all livestock and pets and systematic testing procedures for the disease. "Certain countries like ours are testing to find the illness, to see where the danger is. Naturally, when you seek, you find," Chirac said. "Other countries in the EU are not searching. When they don't search, they naturally don't find any infected animals."
In Paris on Friday, the families of two French victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease filed a legal suit for poisoning, charging that authorities in France, Britain and Europe did not act quickly enough to stamp out mad cow disease.
The suit alleges that Laurence Duhamel, who died last February at the age of 36, and 19-year-old Arnauld Eboli, who is alive but very ill, were victims of poisoning and involuntary homicide.
"Our son is dying. We hope measures will be taken to prevent this from happening again," said Dominique Eboli, the mother of Arnaud, who was at the Paris courthouse.
The case is the first of its kind linked to mad cow disease in France. The court will open a judicial investigation, and then an investigating magistrate will be assigned to the case.
Apart from the man cited in the suit, one other person has died from the disease in France. In Britain, where an outbreak of mad cow disease was first detected in the late 1980s, around 86 people have died from the human variant.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 (AP US & World By CLAR NI CHONGHAILEWith fears over mad cow disease crippling beef sales in France, President Jacques Chirac promised Thursday to push the issue of food safety at next month's European Union summit. The European Parliament, meanwhile, followed France's lead and urged the 15 EU members Thursday to ban feeds for all livestock containing meat from mammals -- not just feeds for cattle.
France imposed a similar ban Tuesday. It also banned the T-bone steak, the second specialty to be slashed from the nation's menus in a week amid what many commentators describe as public hysteria over so-called mad cow disease. France and the EU are hoping to protect the food chain from bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. The brain-wasting ailment is suspected by scientists to be linked to a similar human malady, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
Earlier EU measures banned giving cattle any feeds containing ground meat and bone meal from mammals. Scientists believe mad cow disease originated in Britain when cattle were given feed containing the ground remains of sheep infected with a brain ailment. Under the agreement passed Thursday by the 626-member EU assembly in Strasbourg, France, giving such feeds to sheep, goats, poultry, fish and pigs would also be barred. The parliament decision is not binding on EU governments.
The EU summit Dec. 7-8 in Nice, southern France, marks the end of France's six-month presidency of the 15-nation group. What should have been a showcase for French diplomacy has been marred by the mad cow scandal.
Last month, it was discovered that potentially infected meat made it onto supermarket shelves. Many school districts have banned beef from their canteens, and sales have slumped about 40 percent in a nation renowned for its love of meat.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of mad cow disease found among animals in France this year -- some 90 compared to 31 last year. The EU has said that part of the reason is more rigorous testing of animals.
The French public's fears are all the stronger because of a string of recent food scares, including an outbreak of listeriosis connected to pork tongue in gelatin. Many have also been reminded of the so-called "tainted blood affair" of 1985, in which more than 4,000 people contracted the AIDS virus from blood transfusions. Many have since died, and several government officials stood trial over the affair.
Chirac met with farming leaders Thursday and promised to make food safety a key talking point at the summit, his spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said. The head of France's largest farming union, Luc Guyau, said Chirac backed farmers' calls for an ambitious Europe-wide plan to supply enough vegetable proteins to replace animal-based feeds.
Also Thursday, a lawyer for the families of two French victims of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease said the families planned to sue authorities in France and Europe for alleged poisoning. The families argue that not enough was done to warn people of the dangers of beef, or to ban animal-based feeds as soon as the risks were apparent. One of the victims has died and one is very ill. One other person has died of the disease in France, but is not involved in the court action. In Britain, more than 80 people have died from the disease.
"We need to find out urgently whether citizens were fooled or manipulated," Olivier Duplessis, head of an association of CJD victims that is joining the two families in their legal action, told the French magazine Le Point.
Wed, Nov 15, 2000 Sunday Business/KRTBN By Tim KingMad cow disease is threatening once again to shatter the unity of the European Union after an upsurge of alarm about the safety of beef in France. Veterinary experts from the EU states meet in Brussels tomorrow to consider a series of demands from France's neighbours for further safeguards to shore up public confidence in meat supplies.
Meanwhile in France, Lionel Jospin's government is facing a growing chorus of demands for unilateral action to restore the reputation of the beef industry. What Jospin has termed "the psychosis" began last month when it emerged that a farmer had sold some of his cattle for slaughter despite suspecting a case of BSE in his herd. The supermarket chain Carrefour was forced to recall supplies of meat.
Since then, sales of beef have nose-dived and local authorities have been removing beef from school menus. The number of cases of BSE in France continues to rise. Two more were confirmed on Friday, taking the total to 97, compared with last year's 31.
The leader of the French farmers' union, Luc Guyau, said that if beef sales continued to fall over the weekend the farm minister Jean Glavany would have to announce action "at the start of the week" in order to restore the confidence of consumers. The union is calling for the slaughter of all cattle over the age of four. Glavany has rejected this step as unjustified and expensive.
Glavany is more likely to give way to demands for a complete ban on the use of meat and bonemeal in all animal feed. An EU-wide ban on meat and bonemeal in feed for sheep and cattle has been in place since 1994 but only the UK and Portugal, the two countries with the worst incidence of BSE, have extended the ban to apply to feed meant for poultry, pigs or fish. The Portuguese will be calling at tomorrow's meeting of veterinary experts for an EU-wide ban on the use of any meat and bonemeal in any animal feed. The European Commission has been reluctant to propose such an all-encompassing ban because it cannot find any scientific justification.
The commission has limited itself to demanding that any animal material used in feed should be certified fit for human consumption. But the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, David Byrne, made clear this week that national governments were free to introduce their own bans as the UK and Portugal had done. He believes that the removal of all meat and bonemeal from all feed would reduce the risk of cross-contamination across the species barriers.
The French president, Jacques Chirac, always happy to discomfit his political opponents in Jospin's government, called last week for an immediate ban on meat and bonemeal in all animal feed. But Glavany has been stalling, declaring himself in favour, in principle, while citing practical difficulties with an immediate ban. First there is the question of how to dispose of the existing stocks of animal feed.
Glavany has also pointed to the UK's difficulties in disposing of animal waste that is no longer permitted for use in feed manufacture. The UK had to spend millions of pounds on building new incinerators. In 1998 the European rendering industry converted 16 million tons of animal material into 3 million tons of meat-and-bone meal and 1.5 million tons of fat for feed.
There is the similarly costly question of finding other sources of protein for animal feed. Some estimates in France suggest that the cost of rearing chickens would rise by 10 percent . Europe does not grow enough soya to meet the projected extra demand for vegetable protein so would have to import, probably from Latin America. Despite these difficulties, the French government may be forced into banning animal protein from all animal feed in an attempt to assuage la psychose.
The pressure is not just domestic. France' s EU partners are demanding action, fearing that France will export either the psychosis or BSE itself. Spain and Italy are particularly concerned that French farmers might export older cattle if it appears they cannot be sold on the domestic market. Spain has introduced a ban on the export of breeding cattle from France.
Italy's agriculture minister, Pecoraro Scanio, has threatened a ban on French meat. The commission has called on Spain to justify its ban and is trying to prevent unjustified unilateral action, but its powers to do so are no greater than when France refused to lift its ban on British beef last year.
Byrne called on Friday for all member states to do what France had done: begin testing for BSE immediately without waiting until it becomes compulsory on 1 January 2001. He also urged member states to conduct many more tests than the bare legal minimum. The sub-text of his message is that France will not be the only state to uncover a greater incidence of BSE than previously reported. Things will get worse.
Opinion (Roland Heynkes, German TSE expert):
"The EU decision 99/534 means that from July 1999 all dangerous or less dangerous materials according to the older decision 90/667 had to become "sterilized" at 133degrees with 3 bar for 20 minutes. But there are many exceptions allowed in this EU decision:
a. It allows making pet food from less dangerous raw material according to 90/667 b. It allowes to use animal waste for feeding of zoo-, cirkus- or fur animals and hunting dogs as well as maggots. c. "fat free" bones can be used for gelatin production d. skins and coats can be used for production of gelatin, collagen and hydrolysed proteins, and hooves, horns and hair have not to besome sterilized. It is furthermore not necessary to sterilize: e. glands, tissues and organs for pharmaceutical use; f. blood and blood products; g. milk and milk products; h. non-ruminant waste for the production of rendered fats, excluding greaves derived from such production; i. low-risk ruminant waste for the production of rendered fats excluding greaves derived from such production; j. animal waste for the production of products for which it can be assured that they will not enter any human food or animal feed chain and will not be used as fertilisers and, until 1 July 2000 it was allowed to not sterilize: k. high-risk ruminant waste for the production of rendered fats, excluding greaves derived from such production; l. bones fit for human consumption.For this reason it was allowed in Germany until 1 July 2000 to produce meat and bone meal (Fleischknochenmehl) at temperature about 90 degrees celsius and this material was used and probably still is in use for feeding of pigs, chicken and farm fish.
As we still use pithing in Germany, we have had at least until July this year the unsafest BSE measurements in Europe. It is likely that cross contamination of cattle feed still happens in Germany, because the first secretary of agriculture as well as leading veterinarians ignore BSE risk in Germany."
Opinion (European correspondent):
"The EU decision 96/449 was very late - and this decision was supposed to enter into force in all EU countries only from 1.4.97, almost one year later. Several countries had problems for meeting these requirements in all rendering facilities. France was one of these.
Some other countries continued to make "bone meal" from "bones fit for human consumption" with much lower heat treatments than 133 degrees / 3 bar. If you take a look at decision 96/449, you will see that this was completely legal !!! Until 1999 when a new decision corrected this error.
As far as I know, the situations in Austria and the Netherlands were "good" or "rather good", but heat treatment in several other countries was very unsatisfactory until 1997 or even long after 1997. For France, it has been said that these 133 degrees/3 bar conditions were respected from May 1999, it has also been said that they might have been respected only from this year 2000.
Norway has had a legal requirement of 136 degrees - 20 minutes or 133 degrees - 40 minutes, since January 1999. Before, this was a voluntary requirement since 1997. Before 1997, there was an official requirement of 133 degrees - 3 bar - 20 minutes - already in 1994, 3 years before the EU countries- And before 1994, the minimum was around 125 degrees, but some renderers may have operated at higher temperatures/pressures.
Apart from MBM and bone meals, there is also the problem of blood meal, especially when produced in countries where "pithing" was legal (UK, among others). These blood meals were heated to very low temperatures without pressure (maybe around 80 degrees C) But feeding of cattle with blood meal (even from ruminants) was and is still legal in many EU countries (EU decision 95/60) - even in the UK ! (but forbidden in France since 1994 .. and in Norway since 1990)
The potential for contamination still exists with 133 or 136 degrees. I personally do not believe in a sufficient inactivation if any TSE agent is present. In my opinion, we have to ban MBM totally, or to ensure a "really totally complete separation" between feed productions, storage and transport for ruminant feeds and feeds for non ruminants."
Wed, Nov 15, 2000 By Brian Love Reuters North AmericaThe honeymoon was already over for French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, reeling from recent misjudgments. But the current crisis over mad cow disease may prove the toughest test yet for the man who is expected to seek a new lease of political life by running for the French presidency.
Jospin was slow to spot the discontent that triggered petrol pump protests and nationwide refinery blockades in September and paid dearly for it, both financially and politically. He was equally slow to respond after dozens of supermarkets acknowledged in October that potentially contaminated beef had got onto their shelves, and only took action this week after a change of heart.
Jospin finally decided Tuesday to ban T-bone steaks and halt the use of ground-up cattle carcasses in animal feedstuffs. The move was an attempt to calm voters after weeks of scary reports about mad cow cases, suspect animal feeds and a related brain-wasting disorder which kills humans, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (nvCJD).
In a country still haunted by a scandal over AIDS-infected blood transfusions, Jospin took three weeks to decide what had already been called for by arch-rival President Jacques Chirac -- a ban on the animal feed blamed for spreading mad cow disease.
Jospin, true to his background as a teacher and reputation as a "serious" government leader, first tried to persuade the French public to wait for scientific studies before deciding on any drastic action. His cohorts had ruled out banning steaks and warned against a national "psychosis."
Chirac, the man Jospin is tipped to challenge for the job of president in 2002, was quicker to take the pulse, see the worry rise in the opinion polls, and beat Jospin to the conclusion that urgent precautionary action was the only way to go. Chirac's allies on the opposition benches of parliament were also quick to capitalize on this week's U-turn by Jospin and his left-wing team.
"Chirac's the hard weather man, Jospin's the man when things are going well. When a storm blows up, you need another captain on the bridge," Patrick Devidjan, chief spokesman for Chirac's RPR party, said.
The authoritative Le Monde newspaper also came to a worrying conclusion in an editorial Wednesday. "Whatever the honesty of his ways or the scale of the plan unveiled Tuesday, he (Jospin) left the impression that he was deaf to the calls of the people and that he gave in against his own will by signing up to a stand he had opposed," it said.
The dangers are multiple for Jospin, whose main competitive disadvantage in the beauty contest with Chirac is a stiff, stern personality, alongside the crowd-loving president. He also has to keep his government going for another 18 months.
Jospin lost the 1995 presidential election to Chirac, but swept to power as prime minister in 1997 after Chirac disastrously dissolved parliament in the belief that his center-right allies would be returned with a bigger majority.
Chirac has been forced to watch from the sidelines as Jospin and the "dream team" cabinet claimed credit for the economy's rapid exit from virtual recession and what has been a steady drop in France's high unemployment rate.
But the wear and tear of more than three years in government is increasingly taking a toll. There are divisions within the Socialist ranks as pressure mounts on the government to share out more of the spoils of a strong run of economic growth.
Their junior partners in the coalition, the Communists and the Greens, are increasingly vociferous in their demands with the advent of municipal elections next spring. And four of the senior ministers in the "dream team" have quit in the past year.
He and his finance minister, Laurent Fabius, also failed to take stock of public discontent when months of soaring world oil prices started to hit hard at the petrol pump in September. He had to buy off protesting freight truckers, farmers and fishermen with compensation, angering other European capitals as the protest movement spilled across borders.
Fabius only rejoined front-line government earlier this year after a decade in the political wilderness. A former prime minister in the 1980s, Fabius was acquitted last year in a trial over political responsibility for the failure to tackle a crisis over AIDS-infected blood used in transfusions that killed dozens of hemophiliacs.
14 November 2000 Emma Young New Scientist Online NewsA Dutch plan for a tower-block farm holding millions of pigs, chickens and fish is widely criticised. A proposal to build a vast, six-storey farm holding pigs, chickens, salmon and crops in Rotterdam is being backed by Dutch agriculture minister, Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst.
High-rise farming is the only answer to Holland's pressing space problem, argues Jan De Wilt of the National Council for Agricultural Research in the Hague, who came up with the plan.
But the 'Agropark' has been attacked by farmers and animal rights campaigners alike, says Bird van dan Barg, a pig specialist at the Animal Protection Society in the Hague. "We are absolutely against it and so are the farmers," he says.
"They already have problems with animal health and holding 300,000 pigs in the same building means there is a high risk of the spread of disease. Also, people do not like the idea of pigs living in flats."
De Wilt disagrees: "If people can live in apartment buildings, so can pigs. If people don't like the idea, it's because they have a romantic view about agriculture. But that is not tenable."
Holland is the world's third largest food exporter and much of its land is already intensively farmed. De Wilt is proposing that one million chickens, along with 300,000 pigs, salmon tanks, mushroom beds and a greenhouse could all be housed in a 20-metre tall building in Rotterdam harbour.
The 25-hectare (63-acre) area would also hold processing plants to turn pig and chicken manure into fertiliser and salmon feed, as well as to package the produce. He claims that several Dutch international farming companies are interested in the plan. "But they want to stay quiet about it for the time being, while there is so much social concern," he says.
De Wilt thinks Agroparks would have several major advantages over conventional farms. "They would improve the quality of the landscape by requiring less land to be cultivated, they would cut down on transport, and they would provide better living conditions for many animals," he told New Scientist. Each pig would have a 1.5 metres square cubicle, and would have access to a balcony, says De Wilt.
But for van dan Barg, the balcony is a major concern. "There is a worry that allowing contact between animals on the balconies will make disease outbreaks more likely. Hundreds of thousands of pigs could need to be slaughtered, instead of just a few thousand," he says. Van dan Barg is convinced that the plan will not go ahead. Even de Wilt thinks it could be 10 years before public opinion moves to accept it.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 By Trevor Mason, Parliamentary Editor, PA NewsAgriculture Minister Nick Brown today declined to say that French beef was safe for British consumers to eat. Amid growing concern about BSE in French cattle, Mr Brown said it was for the Food Standards Agency to provide advice to ministers on food safety issues.
The recommendation from the agency was that there were "no health reasons" for banning the importation of French beef, he said.
Mr Brown was challenged directly over the issue at Commons question time by shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo. "Is French beef safe for British consumers?" Mr Yeo demanded.
Mr Brown replied: "You were opposition spokesman when the FSA was set up. Underpinning the setting up of that agency was the fundamental decision to take agriculture ministers out of the decision-making process, so the decision is made by the FSA in terms of advice to Government...
"But the recommendations from the agency are clear: there are no health reasons to ban the importation of French beef. That is the agency's professional advice to Government and if you want to dispute it, you should put that evidence in the public domain."
Mr Yeo said there had been a clear increase in the levels of BSE in cattle in France. In the light of this, the French Government had started to take the kind of measures introduced in Britain four years ago to tackle the disease.
"Isn't it clear that as a precaution to protect British consumers it would be wise to stop the import of potentially BSE-infected French beef coming into Britain?"
Mr Yeo said that because the Government had refused to introduce "honesty in food labelling," British consumers did not know whether they were eating "safe British beef, or dangerous French beef".
Mr Brown said no one was going to take advice on food safety questions from ministers in the last Conservative Government who "incompetently presided over the BSE crisis in this country".
Earlier, William Thompson (UUP W Tyrone) asked what steps the Government was taking to ensure that any meat imported from France was free from BSE contamination. Mr Brown told him: "The public protection measures in this country are very powerful. Among them is a ban on selling any beef product derived from animals of over 30 months of age." He said again that ministers acted on advice from the FSA, which was looking at the issue carefully but had not, so far, recommended a ban on French beef.
Russell Brown (Lab Dumfries) accused Tory leader William Hague of failing to learn the lessons of the BSE crisis. He said: "Isn't it obvious that the recent comments from the leader of the Opposition about "bonfires" of food safety regulations, that these people just had not understood and learned the lessons of BSE."
The criticism gave the Agriculture Minister an opportunity to highlight the Government's attitude to the regulation that it is hoped will prevent tragedy on the scale of the BSE crisis from ever happening again.
He said: "The whole culture of calling for bonfires of regulation rather than better regulation is wrong; that is the view of the Government and that is also the view of Lord Phillips (chairman of the BSE inquiry and author of its report). And in the report, Lord Phillips makes some very sharp points about those who harass public regulators when they are trying to do an important job."
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 By MARILYN AUGUST Associated Press WriterSteak houses across France are feeling the pinch as fears of mad cow disease deepen, but it's business as usual for the nation's top chefs whose stardom rests on culinary creativity -- not hearty slabs of beef.
"When you go out for a special dinner in the United States, you think of an expensive steak house and a really good cut of beef, like prime rib," said businesswoman Andrea Richard, a longtime Paris resident from Jupiter, Florida. "But in France, you go to a top restaurant for the chef's original gourmet dishes -- and they hardly ever include cuts of meat."
The French government on Tuesday banned the T-bone steak and ordered butchers to change the way they carve up other cuts from the bone in an effort to reduce the risks associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the fatal, brain-wasting ailment suspected to be linked to a similar human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
With fears about the safety of beef crippling sales in France, President Jacques Chirac pledged Thursday to make food safety a key talking point at next month's European Union summit, which will be France's last as president of the group.
Top restaurants are hardly stumped by the mad cow furor. At Taillevent, the three-star restaurant in Paris ranked No. 1 in the Zagat Survey, beef takes up increasingly small space on the menu, but not because of mad cow worries.
"Our customers are more concerned with health and nutrition than ever before, and the demand for fish dishes has skyrocketed in recent years, especially among businessmen who sometimes eat in restaurants twice a day," owner Jean-Claude Vrinat said in an interview.
The mad cow frenzy, though, has taken its toll on Taillevent's pricey gourmet menu.
Chef Michel Del Burgo's famed "tourte de riz de veau" -- sweetbreads pie -- was slashed after the government banned the traditional French delicacy made from a cow's thymus.
Del Burgo also has modified his "filet pique a la moelle" -- filet of beef injected with bone marrow -- to eliminate the high-risk marrow, but Vrinat says customers continue to ask for it on the side.
Another three-star chef, Michel Bocuse in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or outside Lyon, decided to continue offering filet of beef, despite a decrease in demand. "We always have it on the menu because some people always want meat, but it's definitely not what we serve the most, and recently, we've been serving a little less," said Martine Bocuse, the chef's private secretary.
Tender tournedos in armagnac and filet mignon with truffles have long been among the most popular dishes at the famed, one-star Moulin de Mougins, outside Nice. But maitre d'hotel Laurent Boisset said chef Roger Verge has talked about dropping them from the menu.
"Despite the mad cow hysteria, we're serving the same amounts of these specialties," Boisset said in a telephone interview. "The chef has a tough decision to make."
In the wake of wartime penury, the French became Europe's biggest meat-eaters. In 1950, the average French person consumed about 30 kilograms (about 66 lbs) per year, compared to 90 kilograms (198 pounds) today.
Steakhouse chains such as Buffalo Grill and Hippopotamus have become widely popular in France, with restaurants in many major cities and increasingly in suburban shopping malls. Those and other similar moderately priced steak house restaurants throughout France recently have reported a sharp drop in business.
"Our clientele is off about 30 percent," said Manuel Dolores, the manager of L'Entrecote, a popular steak house near the Champs-Elysees. On Thursday, there was no wait, and many tables remained vacant during the usually hopping lunch hour.
"Mad cow disease? It's all exaggerated by the media and I'm not afraid at all," said Robert Korzeniewski, 50, a salesman from Aumont, in northern France.
Korzeniewski, 50, admits he's not typical of the rest of the population -- including his own mother who has stopped buying all cuts of red meat. "I came here specifically because I had a hankering for a good steak," Korzeniewski said, as he soaked up the famed Entrecote steak sauce with a piece of fresh baguette.
18 Nov 00 PA NewsThe Government has reportedly increased its estimate of the possible number of victims of variant CJD on the day that a 28-year-old Scot has become the latest confirmed victim of the human form of mad cow disease.
According to the BBC, the Government has previously predicted that the maximum number of people who could die was 136,000, and the so-called Central Figure - the best guess about how many actually would die - was 6,000.
But the initial figure has been upwardly revised to 250,000.
Prof John Collinge, of the BSE Advisory Committee, told the programme: "We might be seeing an epidemic that involves hundreds of thousands of people. Let's hope that's not the case, but it's still possible.
"We need to guard against false optimism and wishful thinking, which has bedevilled this field for too long."
But Dr Pat Troop, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the latest estimates had yet to be confirmed.
"The person who runs that particular model ... is revising his figures, he is putting the new cases into that, and that may well revise the figure upwards. But until he has completed that work and had it validated, I don't really want to start quoting new figures," she said. Dr Troop said that that work would be completed within a few weeks.
She added: "We plan on the basis of, it could be 10,000, it could be hundreds of thousands. That's how we have always planned."
Sun, Nov 19, 2000 By Emma Hibbs, PA NewsFast food chain McDonald's today announced it will not use meat reared on genetically modified feed. The decision is in response to public concerns and fears about the safety of the so-called `frankenstein' foods.
A spokeswoman for the company said: "McDonald's in the UK has taken the decision to move away from the use of animal feed containing genetically modified ingredients. We have therefore requested that our suppliers seek non-GM sources of feed.
"Our chicken supplier already uses feed containing soya meal of Brazilian origin, which is principally non-GM. We are continuing to work with our suppliers of beef, pork, eggs and dairy products to identify sources of non-GM animal feed, although sustainability remains a concern."
She added: "We are listening to concerns expressed by consumers seeking reassurances about the safety of food produced in this way. And we will continue to monitor public opinion and scientific developments."
The US burger giant made a stand during the height of the BSE crisis by taking British beef off the menu.
Greenpeace spokesman Charlie Kronick said: "This is yet another nail in the coffin for GM in the UK and the rest of Europe. Where McDonald's leads other companies are certainly going to follow. And it's really just time that governments and companies wake up to the fact that consumers are not interested in it, don't want to buy it and no-one needs it."
Fri, Nov 17, 2000 Reuters World Report By Raffaella MalagutiItaly on Friday banned imports of adult cattle aged over 18 months and beef-on-the-bone from France because of consumer panic over mad cow disease and its link to a fatal, brain-wasting disease in humans. Italy also banned the use of meat and bone feed, and planned to test cattle aged over 24 months for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said.
"It is not a total embargo of all imports but a ban which is limited to adult cattle and beef-on-the-bone," the minister said during a break in the cabinet meeting which decided the ban.
"We are blocking the import of adult cattle with an age above 18 months," he told a news conference later. "There is a block on the import of meat-on-the-bone which is the same as that decided by the French government," he added.
Consumer and farmer groups had called on the government to follow other European nations and block imports after French supermarkets said they had sold beef potentially contaminated with BSE, which is linked to a brain-wasting disease in humans. France on Tuesday banned the sale of beef-on-the-bone and suspended the use of suspect animal feed products.
Pecoraro Scanio said Italy had banned the use of meat and bone feed as a precautionary step against BSE. "There is a ban on giving to all grass-eating animals feed from animal tissue," he said.
The minister said it was probable that the testing of cattle aged over 24 months for BSE would begin from January 2001. He said the testing would be carried out by examining the brain tissue of slaughtered animals.
According to the Rome-based farm research institute ISMEA, Italy imports about 1.5 million head of cattle a year, of which two-thirds, or one million head, come from France. Italy slaughters about 4.5 million head of cattle a year, according to ISMEA.
Italy's biggest farmers' group Coldiretti said on Friday it welcomed the government's move, which responded to its appeals to the government to ban French beef and adult cattle.
Paolo Martinelli, president of a leading Italian consumers' group, Milan-based Altro Consumo, said consumption of beef in Italy had dropped by 10-20 percent in recent weeks. Many Italian schools have cut beef from their menus.
Throwing up a barricade against mad cow disease, Italy on Friday banned most beef imports from France, the source of nearly half its beef. The decision, effective immediately, came after the European Union failed Wednesday to take action against the spread of the fatal, brain-wasting ailment. Italy has been lobbying for tighter EU controls.
Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said that the ban includes steer and cows more than 18 months old, believed to be more likely to contract the infection, and T-bone steak, also recently banned by the French government. Italy imports 40 percent of its beef from France and the decision was sharply criticized in Paris.
"I regret this decision," French President Jacques Chirac said, adding that it highlights the need for uniform food safety rules in Europe.
The head of France's National Federation of Agriculture Unions, Luc Guyau, condemned Italy for imposing a unilateral ban. Only one other EU country, Spain, has banned French beef. "It's about time that Europe takes stock and speaks with one voice to avoid cacophony," he said, echoing Chirac's call for harmonizing food regulations.
Italy said the EU forced its hand by doing nothing at its Wednesday meeting on the crisis. "When no measures are taken by the EU, it's only fair to adopt national measures as a precaution," Pecoraro Scanio told a news conference. "We have an obligation to restore the Italian consumers' confidence."
The Italian government earlier this week banned livestock feed containing meat. Italy has been free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, which scientists think may be spread by animal-based livestock feed. But an increase in reported cases in France has frightened Italian consumers.
More than 30 cities have taken beef off their school menus and beef sales have dropped 10 percent, according to Italy's butchers association.
The government has also ordered tests on livestock older than 24 months. The tests, to be carried out on brain tissues, will cost about 100 billion lire ($44 million). They were scheduled to start in January.
Sun, Nov 19, 2000 Associated PressDozens of Italian farmers headed to the border with France on Sunday to make sure no beef from France crosses into Italy, which two days earlier banned most French beef imports to try to keep mad cow disease >from spreading to Italy. Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio called on the protesters to stay calm.
Italy imported some 40 percent of its beef from France until Friday, when Rome banned most beef imports following an increase in detection of the brain-wasting animal disease in France.
Some 50 farmers and cattle raisers from the Piedmont region which borders France headed to the frontier point of Ventimiglia to hand out leaflets and be on guard for any trucks that might be arriving with meat from France. The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from the border town, said the protest was calm and that few trucks of any kind had crossed the border because most trucks don't make their runs on Sundays.
"In the middle of all this confusion, we maintain that a blockade of border crossings is the only useful tool to safeguard both the interests of consumers and those of cattle raisers," said Marco Favaro, head of a group of Italian beef producers.
Italian cattle have largely been spared the mad cow problem, with the only two cases that of two animals imported from Britain a few years ago. The protesting Italians invited the agriculture minister to join them in their demonstration, but the minister said in a statement he would do better to go to Brussels, where a European Union meeting of farm ministers was set for Monday.
"I understand the agitation" of the breeders, the minister said, "but law enforcement agencies and authorities will apply the order of the health ministry" Friday banning the French imports.
Fri, Nov 17, 2000 Reuters World ReportA cow from a farm near Utrecht has been discovered to have mad cow disease in the seventh case of BSE in the Netherlands, the Dutch Agriculture Ministry announced late on Thursday. The cow, named 'Geertje', will be part of a group of 61 cows that will be destroyed and their corpses burned on Friday. Cattle born on the same farm and in the same year as Geertje will also be slaughtered and their bodies investigated, the ministry said.
The last case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the Netherlands was more than a year and a half ago. The first Dutch case occured in March 1997. Recent consumer panic over mad cow disease and its link to a fatal brain-wasting disease in humans led France to ban the sale of beef-on-the-bone and suspend the use of animal feed products on Tuesday.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 Reuters World ReportThe French military said on Thursday it would open its unused warehouses to store meat and bone meal banned amid a crisis over mad cow disease.
"This ministry can stock up to 180,000 tonnes of meat and bone meal and we can do it with only a few days notice," Defence Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau told reporters. At a separate news conference, Jean-Paul Proust, the official heading efforts to dispose of the banned animal feed, said the state's initial target was to find warehouse space for between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes of meat and bone meal.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin announced a ban on meat and bone meal in all animal feed on Tuesday as a precaution against the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, linked to a fatal brain-wasting disease in humans.
The ban means France has to destroy 740,000 tonnes of meat and bone meal and 275,000 tonnes of animal fat per year. Since this is above the capacity of its incinerators, the country has to find spare warehouse space quickly. The cost of destruction and stockpiling is estimated at up to five billion francs ($652.8 million) a year.
Environment Minister Dominique Voynet said all sites would have to pass strict sanitary and environmental criteria. Army chief veterinarian Colonel Jean Kervalla said military warehouses chosen to house the feed would have to have waterproof roofs and floors, easy road access, firefighting facilities and controlled temperatures.
Kervalla also said the military was being extra careful about meals served to its approximately half million members. Defence Minister Alain Richard said at the weekend an alternative main dish would be served in military installations when beef was on the menu.
A scare resulting from several French supermarkets reporting sales of potentially contaminated beef has resulted in hundreds of schools dropping beef from their menus and beef sales in France slumping by up to 40 percent.
Italy's Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said on Thursday the Italian government was expected to introduce a ban on Friday on imports of French beef from animals 18 months or older -- the category deemed most at risk -- and beef on the bone, while German Farm Minister Karl-Heinz Funke said he would take steps to ensure French animal feed was not sold in Germany.
Speaking in Athens, European Commission President Romano Prodi sought to play down fears over mad cow disease. He told Greek television he saw no reason for panic, but that taking precautions was understandable.
"Mad cow disease exists and it's serious. One must take precautions but not panic," Prodi said.He said the Commission had asked European Union member-states to conduct tests for BSE and would keep insisting on this, but it could not impose testing on national authorities.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government said on Thursday it had found its first case of mad cow disease in 18 months. An Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman said a case had been discovered in the province of Utrecht, in the centre of the Netherlands, and parliament had been informed.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 By CLAR NI CHONGHAILE Associated Press WriterWith fears about the safety of beef crippling sales in France, President Jacques Chirac will make food safety a key talking point at next month's European Union summit, which will be France's last at the head of the group.
Chirac made the pledge during a meeting with farmers' representatives at the Elysee presidential palace on Thursday, his spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said. The EU summit in Nice, southern France, on Dec. 7 and 8 will mark the end of France's six-month presidency of the 15-nation group. What should have been a chance to show French diplomacy at its best has been marred by the so-called mad cow scandal.
Faced with what many commentators describe as public hysteria, the government announced on Tuesday that it was banning the T-bone steak, the second specialty to be slashed from the nation's menus in a week, and putting a temporary ban on all livestock feed containing meat.
Following France's move, the European Parliament on Thursday voted to urge governments to impose an immediate ban on all animal feed containing the ground remains of other animals. The decision, which is not binding on EU governments, passed by show of hands in the 626-member EU assembly meeting in Strasbourg, France.
Currently, EU measures introduced to counter mad cow disease forbid the feeding of ground meat and bone meal from other mammals to cattle, but such feed can be given to poultry, fish and pigs. Cattle can still be fed poultry and fish remains [thus completing the disease amplification cycle -- webmaster.]
France and the EU are hoping to protect the food chain from bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. The brain-wasting ailment is suspected by scientists to be linked to a similar human malady, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
The French government took dramatic measures after it was discovered that potentially infected meat made it onto supermarket shelves last month. Many school districts have banned beef from their canteens, and sales have slumped about 40 percent in a nation renowned for its love of meat.
Chirac's spokeswoman said he welcomed the government's decision and said the measures "were essential to ensure public health, to re-establish confidence and to check the fall in consumption."
Public fears are all the stronger in France because of a string of recent food scares, including an outbreak of listeriosis connected to pork tongue in gelatin.
Many have also been reminded of the so-called "tainted blood affair" of 1985, in which more than 4,000 people contracted the AIDS virus from blood transfusions. Many have since died, and several government officials stood trial over the affair.
Strengthening fears has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of mad cow disease found among animals this year -- some 90 compared to 31 last year. The EU has said that part of the reason is more rigorous testing of animals.
The head of France's largest farming union, Luc Guyau, said after meeting Chirac that the president had backed farmers' calls for an ambitious Europe-wide plan to supply enough vegetable proteins to replace animal-based feeds.
Guyau welcomed the decision to deal with the problem on a Europe-wide level and said Chirac had invited farm leaders to the summit for talks with EU President Romano Prodi and EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler.
Also Thursday, a lawyer for the families of two French victims of the human variant of the brain-wasting disease said the families planned to sue authorities in France and Europe for alleged poisoning. The families argue that not enough was done to warn people of the dangers of beef, or to ban animal-based feeds as soon as the risks were apparent. One of the victims has died and one is very ill.
One other person has died of the disease in France, but is not involved in the court action. In Britain, more than 80 people have died from the disease.
Thu, Nov 16, 2000 By CONSTANT BRAND Associated Press WriterIn a move to calm fears over "mad cow" disease, the European Parliament voted Thursday to urge governments to impose an immediate ban on all animal feed containing the ground remains of other animals. The resolution calls for a ban "on animal feed production and farm feeding practices that involve recycling animal remains to cattle, sheep, goats and to any other animals including poultry and fish."
The decision, which is not binding on EU governments, passed by show of hands in the 626-member EU assembly meeting in Strasbourg, France.
Currently EU measures introduced to counter mad cow disease forbid the feeding of ground meat and bone meal from other mammals to cattle, but such feed can be given to poultry, fish and pigs. Cattle can still be fed poultry and fish remains. Scientists believe mad cow disease originated in Britain when cattle were given feed containing the ground remains of sheep infected with a brain ailment.
Parliamentarians spent most of Wednesday's session debating what action the EU should take to stem the sudden increase of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in France.
The Parliament criticized the 15 EU national governments for failing to strengthen controls and testing on animals destined for human consumption. "It should be considered a crime to knowingly allow an infected animal, or one suspected of being infected, to enter the food chain," the Parliament said.
The resolution also urged the EU to adopt wider testing for BSE to include not only cattle, but also sheep and goats, and encouraged farmers to come forward on their own initiative to report any new suspected cases of BSE. The Parliament reiterated that entire herds should be "removed from the food chain" when test results are positive. EU farm ministers next week will discuss proposals for extending testing for the disease to include millions more older animals.