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Official: China likely to be Mad Cow free
( 2003-12-28 11:25) (Xinhua)

China's prevention and monitoring system against the deadly Mad Cow Disease is likely to keep the country free of the disease, said an official from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in Beijing Saturday.

Zhang Zhongqiu, deputy director of the MOA's Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau, told Xinhua Saturday that although countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada have reported Mad Cow cases, the disease has not been discovered in China so far.

At present, China has 130 million head of milch cows, farm cattle and beef cattle. According to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) requirements, China should examine brain tissues of 2,000 head of cattle for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the official name of "Mad Cow Disease."

In fact, China's BSE monitoring institutions have conducted OIE tests on 4,800 head of cattle for BSE. The test results have shown that China has no original BSE cases.

China has also examined all the cattle, cattle embryo and offspring imported since 1990, for possible BSE symptoms, and no such symptoms have been detected so far. According to a BSE monitoring report released by the MOA in 2002, the possibility of BSE entering and spreading in China is very low.

Zhang attributed China's "Mad Cow"-free condition to the persistent surveillance efforts made by relevant Chinese departments.

In 1990, China issued a notice prohibiting imports of meat of ruminant animals and related products from countries which had reported BSE cases. The ban was reiterated and upgraded in 1996 and 1999 by forbidding Chinese cattle raisers to feed ruminant animals with fodder made of animal protein and fat.

In addition, China launched a project in 1998 to establish two BSE labs at the China Agricultural University and the MOA Animal Quarantine Institute, respectively, to conduct BSE research and examinations in line with international standards.

Wang Zhiliang, a veteran BSE researcher from the MOA, said that since Chinese farmers are not used to feeding livestock with fodder made of animal protein, and the country's BSE detection mechanism has been continuously improved, the country is able to effectively prevent "Mad Cow Disease" from entering and spreading.

Echoing the optimistic remarks made by Zhang and Wang, the MOA and State Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine jointly released an emergency circular Dec. 25, banning imports of cattle, cattle embryos and sperm, as well as beef and related products from the United States, which reported its first BSE case Dec. 23.

While commenting on the move, Zhang said the measure is aimed at blocking the channels through which BSE may enter China as early as possible.

"China will lift the ban only according to an OIE notice and risk analysis conducted by our own BSE surveillance and detection institutions," said Zhang.

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