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The BBC's Rob Broomby
"Europe-wide rapid tests are not likely to come into operation until July next year"
 real 28k

Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 21:40 GMT
BSE: Bundestag backs animal feed ban
carcasses
A German agriculture minister examines carcasses
The lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, has passed a bill banning meat-based animal feed in the latest step to fight mad cow disease (BSE).

In doing so, it backed Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's call to bring Germany into line with European Commission proposals for a Europe-wide ban.

The disease is believed to have been transmitted to German cows, and possibly other livestock, via feed that uses meat as an ingredient.

butcher shop in Dusseldorf
No beef: a Dusseldorf butcher reassures customers
If the ban is passed by the upper house, the Bundesrat, on Friday it would come into force by Saturday.

This would make it one of the fastest pieces of legislation in federal Germany.

The German Government says it wants the country to stop factory farming in favour of more consumer-friendly practices so that there is a real chance of stopping the spread of mad cow disease.

The German move is in response to the discovery of mad cow disease in German herds last week despite previous assertions that its cattle would always remain BSE free.

The European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee failed, however, to pass a Europe-wide ban on meat-based feeds in their meeting on Thursday.

A simple majority favoured the measure, but did not get enough votes to pass it because of the EU's weighted voting rules.

Assurances sought

The ban will now have to be discussed by agricultural ministers at their emergency session next week.

According to analysts, the commission's proposals have a strong chance of being accepted by member states.

Until now it has been legal to feed meat and bone meal to pigs and poultry, but there has been a suspicion that it was also being fed to cattle in some places, thereby risking the spread of BSE.

Five new cases of BSE have been confirmed in France bringing the total number of cases discovered this year to 121, compared to just 30 in 1999.

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