Brazil does not fear Surinamese ban on beef imports over BSE case

PARAMARIBO — Southern neighbor Brazil does not fear a ban by the Suriname government on the import of beef after confirmation of an atypical case of mad cow disease. Caio Renault, Chargé d’ Affairs at the Brazilian Embassy in Paramaribo, explains that the cow was infected with an agent that could cause BSE, but not with the disease itself.

The World Organization for Animal Health did not impose measures on Brazil, a country with limited risks for BSE. However, five countries, including China, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have decided to put a ban on Brazilian beef.

The sick cow was a 12-year-old animal from the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. The cow fed on grass, contrary to BSE cows in Europe that were fed contaminated fodder. Scientists from two labs have examined the animal, but so far no explanation has been found for how the animal contracted the bacteria, says the Brazilian diplomat.

Renault explains that transport of cattle between Brazilian regions is governed by strict rules, stricter than those for the transport between two countries. He therefore does not think it possible that cows exported to Suriname were infected. In August, Suriname imported 500 cattle from Brazil. Renault assumes that these were from northern Brazilian regions.

Last month the Brazilian ambassador discussed the case with Agriculture Minister Hendrik Setrowidjojo. Brazil, the world’s leading beef exporting nation, has begun a diplomatic offensive to contain damage to its image. In the 80s and 90s BSE outbreaks in Great Britain and other European countries caused global unrest.

Brazil considers filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the five countries that have imposed the ban. The measure has caused beef exports to suffer a decline of 4.4 percent although exports in December increased to 83,700 tons up from 82.700 tons in November.

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