Japan holds key to U.S. and Canadian beef trade.All eyes in the North American beef industry remain firmly fixed on Japan, for it is increasingly apparent that it is Japan that will determine when trade will return to normal levels. The discovery in May of one Canadian animal that had contracted mad cow disease mad cow disease: see prion.
mad cow disease
or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
Fatal neurodegenerative disease of cattle. Symptoms include behavioral changes (e.g. brought an immediate halt in the movement of live cattle and beef from Canada to the United States, Japan and 33 other countries. Since then, a panel of four international animal health experts has examined Canada's handling of the situation and was highly complimentary. The panel's report praised what it called the "comprehensive scope, level of analysis and thoroughness of the investigation to date."
Among other things, the panel recommended that Canada prohibit the presence of specified risk materials Specified risk materials (SRMs) are the parts of ruminant animal most likely to be contaminated with TSE prions. These can include brains, eyes, spinal cord, and other organs. The exact definition varies by jurisdiction. (SRMs) in food and animal feed. "Implementation of an SRM (1) (Storage Resource Management) The management of the storage resources in an organization in order to avoid duplication of files and to determine space utilization across all servers. ban is the most critical and valuable central measure for public health protection and food safety," says the report. (SRMs include tissue from the brain, spinal cord, ganglia ganglia /gan·glia/ (gang´gle-ah) plural of ganglion. , terminal ileum, eyes and tonsils tonsils, name commonly referring to the palatine tonsils, two ovoid masses of lymphoid tissue situated on either side of the throat at the back of the tongue. .) Canadian Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief recently said cattle brains and spines will be removed from the Canadian animal feed supply and that other details relative to SRMs would be announced soon.
The steps taken by Canada apparently are enough to satisfy its NAFTA NAFTA
in full North American Free Trade Agreement
Trade pact signed by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 1992, which took effect in 1994. Inspired by the success of the European Community in reducing trade barriers among its members, NAFTA created the world's trading partners, Mexico and the United States Relations between the United States and Mexico are among the most important and complex that each nation maintains. They are shaped by a mixture of mutual interests, shared problems, and growing interdependence. . Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman says she considers Canadian beef safe. However, the United States has not yet given an estimate of how long it will take to lift its ban. Meanwhile, Mexican officials say they are close to lifting their ban on Canadian beef, but appear to be waiting for the United States to take the first step.
What is complicating a lifting of the ban by the United States and Mexico is the insistence by Japan that beginning Sept. 1, the United States must certify that U.S. meat exports to Japan will not contain any cattle of Canadian origin. Currently, the United States has no system in place that can guarantee such a claim with confidence. Japan has a heightened concern about BSE See Bombay Stock Exchange.
See Boston Stock Exchange (BSE). following its own problems with the disease in its domestic cattle herd, an event that reverberated throughout the country's meat and food industries.
Meetings 10 days ago between Canadian Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief and his Japanese counterpart Yoshiyuki Kamei to devise a plan to reopen the Japanese border proved to be "frustrating," according to Vanclief. Kamei reportedly agreed to have his officials re-evaluate their conclusions, which failed to give Canadian beef a clean bill of health a certificate from the proper authority that a ship is free from infection.
See also: Clean . However, he gave no timetable for the work to be completed. Vanclief said Kamei provided little other guidance.
Last year, the United States exported 251,835 tonnes of fresh, chilled, frozen and processed beef to Japan, according to the Japanese Customs agency, making Japan the largest overseas market for U.S. beef.