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Wednesday, February 25, 1998 Published at 18:41 GMT



World: Europe

Two-tier BSE system agreed
image: [ New European BSE rules will create a two-tier system ]
New European BSE rules will create a two-tier system

The European commissioners have agreed a plan for tackling the risk of BSE which will lead to a two-tier system within the European Union.

Countries with no native case of the disease will be allowed to apply for exemption from rules which will oblige the rest of the European Union to remove certain materials from animals before sale.

The EU has struggled for many months to reach agreement on which parts of the cow should be banned for human consumption, and the ban has already been delayed twice.

This latest decision postpones it again and effectively ends any attempt to bring in an EU-wide regime. Instead, different rules will apply according to the degree of risk in the country concerned.

BSE-free countries fight ban

The eight countries in the EU which have never suffered a recorded instance of BSE on their own farms have until the end of June to make their case to the European Commission.

They will be given the benefit of the doubt until the end of this year.

The seven countries in the EU which have recorded cases of the disease - Britain, Ireland, France, Portugal and the Benelux states - will all have to ban an agreed list of body parts from July.

They will be able to seek exemptions on some of the lower risk items.

Some of this second group of countries have had a low incidence of BSE.

There are fears that a clearly defined two-tier system could make it harder for them to re-establish confidence in their produce.

The European Commission hopes that the formula will resolve a political impasse over the issue and end a situation in which nation states' attempts to protect their beef industries has delayed a measure designed to protect public health.






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