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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 11:32 GMT
France reveals new mad cow tally
Farmer hit by BSE
The BSE crisis is hitting more and more farmers
France has revealed that four new cases of mad cow disease have been detected, taking the year's total to more than four times the 1999 figure.

Officials at the agriculture ministry said 125 cows suffering from the disease had now been found on farms across France since January.

Two new cases of the human form of the disease, vCJD, were also disclosed by health officials in the UK, taking the number to 87.

Meat and bone meal
Animal meat and bone meal is made in factories all over Europe
The news came a day after European agriculture ministers agreed tough new measures aimed at restoring public confidence in beef in Europe.

After a nine-hour meeting, the ministers banned all cattle over 30 months old from entering the food chain, unless individually tested and proved free of BSE.

That means the slaughter of thousands of cattle until adequate BSE tests are introduced next year.


It's not enough that the EU ban on meat-based feeds will initially last for six months

German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke
The ministers also approved a six-month ban on all meat and bonemeal in animal feed.

Some BSE-free Scandinavian countries say that is over the top.

The Finnish delegation said the ban was unjustified on scientific and moral grounds.

But German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke said the ban was too short.

Slaughtered

"It's not enough that the EU ban on meat-based feeds will initially last for six months," Mr Funke told WDR 2 radio.

Due to take effect in January, the ban does not include fishmeal used in pig and poultry feed, officials say.

The ban on cattle over 30 months old entering the food chain means that cattle can continue to be traded as usual, but once slaughtered the carcasses must be tested for BSE and cleared as fit for human consumption.

Failure will mean the carcasses being sent for incineration.

Panic

The cost of testing will be split between national authorities and Brussels, with the Commission picking up 70% of the bill.

The new scheme also involves extending the list of "specified risk materials" currently banned from human consumption - the brains, spinal cords and spleens of cattle - to include the whole intestine.

The ban, expected to cost $1.7bn, was approved by all 15 ministers.

The emergency Brussels meeting was in the wake of panic in France and Germany where BSE is on the increase.

National governments will get no EU help to pay for the recall and destruction of the meat and bonemeal in circulation.

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