Mad Cow Panic Spreads to Germany
Nov. 27 -- German consumers are running scared after the nation’s first two cases of mad cow disease were confirmed this weekend.
European Health Commissioner David Byrne said Germany had been “complacent” in thinking it was immune from the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder rejected accusations Germany had ignored the threat of mad cow disease and insisted further action at the European Union level was needed over the scare.
One of the infected cows came from the northern region of Schleswig-Holstein. The entire, 160-strong herd has been slaughtered, and all carcasses will be tested.
The second infected cow was exported from the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt to Portugal.
The problem appears to be homegrown. There is no trace in this herd of an ancestry of herds from countries known to be affected by the disease — Britain, Ireland, France, Ireland, Portugal or Switzerland.
No Mad Cows Here
German politicians have long claimed the country was BSE-free, citing superior German standards for the treatment of animal feed. But Byrne said German confidence that its farming sector was free of the disease had always been misplaced.
“Germany long had the view there could be no cases of BSE. That was wrong and I wasn’t surprised,” he said.
Separately, traces of meat and bone meal were found in feed intended for cattle at a north German feed company. That suggested there has been a breach of a 1994 European Union ban on feeding ruminants — cud-chewing animals, like cows — bone meal and meat byproducts, which are thought to have caused the disease.
Earlier, Schroeder said government measures such as a blanket ban on the import, export and use of animal feeds containing meat and bonemeal agreed at the weekend would come into effect on Wednesday.
But Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke said today the government was delaying the introduction of a blanket ban on the production and import of bone meal as there was “insufficient legal basis” for the decreeneeded to institute the measure.