This is the VOA Special English Agriculture
American beef is returning to Japan. The Japanese government last
week ended a ban in place since January over concerns about mad cow disease.
Japanese officials recently inspected thirty-five beef processing centers in
the United States. They said all but one met Japanese safety requirements.
The ban on beef led to threats in Congress of trade restrictions against
The Japanese were the top buyer of American beef. The government first banned
shipments in December of 2003. That was when the United States reported its
first case of mad cow disease -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or B.S.E.
The Japanese lifted their ban
last December, but renewed it in January after the discovery of backbone
material in a meat shipment.
In all, there have been three confirmed cases of B.S.E. in the United States.
The first was in a Canadian-born cow in Washington state. Last year a cow in
Texas was found to have B.S.E.. And in March of this year, a cow in Alabama
tested positive for the disease.
About twenty nations continue to ban American beef; others restrict some
kinds of cattle products. Japan accepts only beef from cattle twenty months of
age or younger. Also, processors must remove backbones and other parts that
experts say could spread the disease.
Eating infected meat products has been blamed for more than one hundred fifty
deaths, mostly in Britain.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says "American beef is extremely safe."
The Japanese ended their ban one week after Mr. Johanns announced reductions
in the B.S.E. testing program. The program will now test about forty thousand
animals a year. That is still ten times the level suggested by the World Animal
Since June of 2004, the Agriculture Department has tested an average of more
than one thousand animals per day. Two years of testing found two cases of
B.S.E. Mr.Johanns noted that both animals were born before the United States
banned feeding cattle protein to other cattle.
A seven-year government study estimated the most likely number of cases at
between four and seven out of forty-two million adult cattle.
But critics say the United States should be testing more cattle, not fewer.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Mario
Ritter. Transcripts and archives of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com.
I'm Steve Ember.
lift their ban :解除禁令