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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
France to keep British beef ban
Scientists test for BSE
France remains sceptical about British beef
France has ruled out any immediate lifting of its ban on British beef, which was imposed over fears of the presence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in 1996.

British beef
Beef was a lucrative source of export for UK farmers
"For the moment, we do not change our position," the new French Farm Minister, Herve Gaymard, said.

France has refused to end its ban on British beef, despite a decision by the European Commission to end a three-and-a-half-year ban on British beef exports in 1999.

Last December, European Union's highest court, the European Court of Justice, ruled that France was acting illegally by continuing to ban the meat.

Lucrative business

In March, the commission embarked on a three-stage legal process by sending France a letter of warning.

The move could end in a return to the European Court of Justice, which could impose a fine on France for failing to comply with its earlier ruling.

But the former French Farm Minister, Francois Patriat, recently asked the commission for more time before deciding if his country would end the embargo.

He also said his government would not look at the ban before elections in June.

Britain has consistently called for an end to the measure, which has closed off a lucrative source of export for British farmers.


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23 May 02 | Health
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