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Nando Times

Mad cow crisis could cost EU $1 billion

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium (January 22, 2001 10:20 a.m. EST - The European Union estimated Monday that handling the mad cow crisis across Europe would cost the EU about $1 billion, possibly jeopardizing other agricultural programs.

The EU's executive office said that the costs of carrying out mandated BSE tests on cattle over 30 months, in addition to spending money on a so-called "purchase for destruction" program, could cut deeply into the EU's agricultural budget for this year.

Mad cow - also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy - is a brain-wasting ailment that scientists believe is linked to Creutzfeld-Jakob disease that affects humans.

To combat mad cow disease, EU countries this month initiated a mass slaughter program, which foresees buying and incinerating up to 2 million head of cattle by the end of June, to restore public confidence in beef consumption.

"The additional costs as compared to the budget 2001 ... amount to one billion euro," said EU spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber.

EU countries also began requiring all cattle over 30 months to be proved BSE-free before the beef can be sold. Meat from any old cattle that is not tested cannot be consumed.

Beef sales have slumped by 27 percent across the EU as a result of the latest outbreak.

"If the severe crisis in the beef market persists, there are two options," he said.

The EU could either decide to increase the agricultural budget or could absorb the costs and draw the funds from other programs, Kreuzhuber said.

The EU set aside an emergency fund of around 1 billion euros in its last agricultural policy reform agreement which was negotiated in 1999.

-- Rachel Gibson (, January 22, 2001


Thne incineration may be a mistake. the "Mad Cow" prion is only destroyed by 800 degrees F. Lower temperatures will only allow it to be spread in the ashes, unless they are buried in a toxic waste dump.

-- John Littmann (, January 22, 2001.

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