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Germany lifts ban on Swiss and British beef

Germany has lifted the ban on Swiss and British beef, imposed during the crisis over BSE, or mad cow disease. The upper house of parliament ended the four-year ban, bringing German policy into line with the rest of the European Union.

This content was published on March 17, 2000 - 15:08

Germany has lifted the ban on Swiss and British beef, imposed during the crisis over BSE, or mad cow disease. The upper house of parliament ended the four-year ban, bringing German policy into line with the rest of the European Union.

The proposal to remove the ban narrowly scraped through Germany's upper house with 39 parliamentarians in favour and 30 against.

The EU's health and consumer protection minister, David Byrne, reacted positively to the vote: "The German states have listened to our arguments and understood them."

The ban was introduced by the European Union in March 1996, after British scientists announced a possible link between BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and a fatal brain disease in humans.

Britain was by far the worst-affected country: over 160,000 cases had been recorded by the time the ban was introduced. The number in Switzerland at the time was 216.

Last August, the EU lifted its ban on cattle born after August 1996, but Germany refused to follow suit.

The withdrawal of ban won't be formalised until about the end of March, when a government order is issued.

swissinfo and agencies

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