3 January 2001
Germans seek scapegoats for mad cows

By FWi staff

THE German government will try to shift much of the blame for its BSE crisis to poor co-ordination between the EU, Berlin and regional capitals reports the Financial Times.

A report being prepared for an unscheduled meeting of agriculture and food committees will admit deficiencies in dealing with the problem.

The newspaper says the government will also set out its strategy for reassuring consumers and tackling falling meat sales.

In November the first case of BSE was discovered in Germany, after the government contended that strict controls protected consumers.

Since then officials have been forced to backtrack as more cases have come to light and beef sales have plummeted.

Chancellor Gerard Schröder has announced a special committee to look at the BSE crisis, identify the chain of failures and suggest improvements.

Meanwhile, German farmers leader Gerd Sonnleitner has demanded legal action against feed producers if their products contained banned products.

And in Spain, authorities in an area where BSE was discovered have provoked uproar by dumping 100 dead cattle in an abandoned mineshaft.

The regional government in Galicia put the animals, which died in accidents or from natural causes, in a disused quartz mine and covered them with quicklime.

Officials said the technique conformed with EU health regulations, reports The Guardian.

However, local residents fear the carcasses could poison streams or groundwater.

In another development, Spanish officials have reported two suspected cases of BSE in Castilla y Leon.