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Beef Association warns against mad cow-infected imports

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Mar 2, 2005
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ABC [30 Sep 2005]

Beef Association warns against mad cow-infected imports

The Australian Beef Association (ABA) is calling on the Federal Government to keep beef from countries infected by mad cow disease (BSE) out of Australia.

Backed by the cattle industry, the Government is reviewing current policy, which would stop beef being sold if there was ever an outbreak of mad cow disease here.

But any policy change could mean beef from countries like Canada or the United States is allowed in.

The ABA's Brad Bellinger says the two issues should not be mixed up, even if that means going up against the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"We've got an example here where Japan has gone against it, now they're one of the biggest beef importing countries in the world and they have a major impact on the beef price around the world, and sales," he said.

"So if Japan has not regarded the WTO rulings, then why should Australia? Australia keeps pushing a level playing field, however we seem to be the only one on it."

The Australian Medical Association is also urging the Government to think carefully, saying there is not enough evidence to warrant the change.

President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal says any decision must be based on sound science.

"The important message around BSE is it's a very serious illness, its transmission is through infected beef, it's something that we need to be very cautious about, and take a risk-free way of dealing with it," he said.

"What we don't have is sufficient reason to reduce that level of regulation around it."

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