Safety-first policy is necessary in coping with mad cow disease: Akahata

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that a milk
cow in Chiba Prefecture is suspected of having been infected with the mad
cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This is the first
case of its outbreak in Japan, if confirmed.

Calling on the ministry to take safety-first steps swiftly, Akahata's
editorial on September 12 in summary said:

The route of transmission of the mad cow disease is said to be the animal
feed containing meat and bone meal of infected cattle in the incubation
period. It is likely that the cow in question has been infected with the
disease through imported contaminated animal feed.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries must identify the
route of transmission of the disease by checking on the cow's breeding farm
and the distribution channel of the animal feed imports. And the results of
its investigation must be made public immediately to prevent ungrounded
confusion from taking place.

The present situation around the disease has brought into question what
the ministry has done so far on this issue.

Claiming that it is very unlikely that the mad cow disease could break
out in Japan, the ministry in its March document denied even the possibility
of the BSE outbreak through imported animal feed. The ministry even threw
cold water on the EU report which indicated a risk of the disease outbreak
in Japan on the grounds that Japan had imported those products from EU

In 1996 that Japan stopped importing the meat and bone products from
Britain, but until last January it has imported them from other EU
countries. It's impossible to deny the possibility of the disease outbreak
because its incubation period is long.

What the ministry has stated was nothing but deception. If it continues
to distort facts, necessary measures will be delayed, pertinent information
hidden, and not only consumers but also dairy farmers be damaged.

The food administration must give priority to people's health and safety.