OIE chief calls for lifting of Brazilian beef bans


* Five countries banned Brazilian beef due to mad cow case

* Brazil considering retaliation at WTO over import bans

* World animal health body OIE head sees bans as needless

* Sees no reason to change Brazil's safety status


Reuters Middle East

Yahoo! News Mktoob Jan 8, 2013


PARIS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The head of the World Animal Health

Organization (OIE) called on countries that are banning

Brazilian beef imports, following a case of mad cow disease last

month, to lift restrictions as soon as possible, saying they

were not justified.


Brazil's foreign trade secretary said last week that five

countries had banned beef imports from Brazil and that the

world's top beef exporter was considering retaliation at the

World Trade Organization (WTO) if they did not lift their bans.


China, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Jordan informed

Brazil that they had imposed import bans after the OIE said a

cow that died in 2010 had bovine spongiform encephalopathy

(BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.


OIE Director General Bernard Vallat said countries had the

right under WTO rules to impose provisional bans as an emergency

response to animal disease outbreaks pending further

information, but he saw no reason for such restrictions in this



"One case in a population of 200 million heads of cattle

does not justify a change of status," Vallat told reporters.


The 13-year-old cow never developed BSE but tested positive

for the protein that causes the disease, a form of BSE called

'atypical' by scientists.


Paris-based OIE has maintained Brazil's status as a beef

producer with so-called negligible risk of bovine spongiform

encephalopathy (BSE), the safest of its three categories. It is

given to countries that have shown the disease was either

non-existent or extremely restricted.


"According to OIE standards, they should lift their ban as

soon as possible," Vallat said.


Brazil's BSE status will be reviewed at a regular meeting of

the OIE's scientific committee due to take place in three weeks.


Officials from the Secretary for Animal and Plant Health at

Brazil's farm ministry said on Dec. 21 that Brazil would give

the countries that curbed its beef imports until March before

pursuing legal action at the WTO...