Mexico Joins NAFTA Partners in Imposing Temporary Ban on Brazilian Beef

Article excerpt

Mexican health authorities have imposed a temporary ban on Brazilian beef products as part of the government's effort to prevent the introduction of mad cow disease into the country.

The decision came after consultations with Canada and the US, Mexico's partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Mexico made this decision...as a temporary and precautionary measure to protect the public's health and that of its livestock," the Secretaria de Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentacion (SAGARPA) said in a statement.

Concerns about mad cow disease prompt restrictions

Juan Garza Ramos, director of SAGARPA's animal-health division, said the three NAFTA countries imposed the ban because of concerns that some Brazilian beef products may have come into contact with beef from European countries, where most cases of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), have been reported.

The disease, detected primarily in Europe, causes deterioration in the brains of cattle. Humans who eat meat infected with mad cow disease are feared to be at risk of getting an equally fatal variant of the brain-wasting disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But the three NAFTA countries' restrictions--which include gravy, corned beef, and gelatin--have increased tensions between the trade bloc and Brazil.

"Brazil will fight energetically to defend its international trade interests," said a spokesperson for Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledged the restrictions were being imposed even though there have been no reported cases of mad cow disease in Brazil. …