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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Moves to Prop Up Beef Markets

Combined Reports

LUXEMBOURG -- European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler proposed two measures Tuesday to ease a consumer crisis sparked by "mad cow" disease-tainted British beef.

Britain, forced into a prospect of killing millions of its cattle in order to win back frightened customers, has turned to the European Union for help, promised at a Turin summit last week.

Pressured by EU farm ministers, Fischler offered to buy 50,000 tons of EU beef this month to support the mad cow-stricken market.

He also offered to suspend temporarily a ceiling on carcass weight as one of a series of measures the ministers, in a second day of emergency talks, were studying to stamp out a crisis that has crippled beef markets in Britain and elsewhere in the EU.

"It will be a temporary derogation for April only," a Commission spokesman said, adding that the Commission would study the effect on prices of the beef intervention buying before deciding whether to extend it beyond this month.

French Farm Minister Philippe Vasseur earlier said the draft was acceptable but needed work on the intervention buying rules and plans for a eradication of the disease in British herds.

Meanwhile, leading scientists from around the world gathered Tuesday in Geneva to examine the public health risk posed by the disease. The two-day conference convened by the World Health Organization will review the current crisis which has sent beef sales plummeting and spread panic throughout Europe.

Around 30 specialists in brain disease, contagious diseases, nutrition and public health are attending the meeting as well as experts from the UN health agency itself.

"It is not the first WHO meeting on this issue but there are now new elements,'' said WHO spokesman Philippe Stroot. "There are 10 new [human] cases in Britain which raise new questions so WHO thought it was its role to convene specialists and determine what the real risks are,'' he said. ()