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Threat of WTO action on 'mad cow' exports

Threat of WTO action on 'mad cow' exports article image
Australia will revise its ban on beef imports after meat exporters from countries thought to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or 'mad cow' disease, threatened to go to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over unfair trade barriers. Red Meat Advisory Council chairman Ian McIvor said due to the latest scientific knowledge and the negligible risks of infection, "overseas countries rightly believe we have been holding on to an unfair trade barrier, something Australia rejects from other countries". Since 2001, beef from 22 European countries, Canada, Japan and the USA have been excluded from Australia's market due to outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The Federal Government said the blanket bans would be scrapped from March 2010 due to new scientific evidence on minimal disease risks. However, Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan said scrapping the ban would affect Australia's 'clean green' image. McIvor replied that this would not be the case as Australia would retain its international 'negligible risk' status and New Zealand had changed its rules in a similar way three years ago without problems.

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