Monday, May 7, 2012

Fresh mad cow case in U.S. may overshadow Japan's participation in TPP

The discovery of a fresh case of mad cow disease in the United States is casting a pall over Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade pact negotiations, which opponents say would lead to a possible easing of curbs on U.S. beef exports.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said April 24 that it has confirmed the nation's fourth case of mad cow disease after a dairy cow from a farm in California was found infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The first BSE infection since 2006 emerged at a time when the United States is pressing Japan on auto trade and Tokyo's postal privatization drive amid signs that the two countries may come to terms on easing regulations on U.S. beef exports to Japan.

The United States reported its first BSE infection in 2003, prompting Japan to ban imports of American beef. Japan resumed U.S. beef imports in December 2005 on condition the beef cows are less than 20 months old. The discovery of specified risk materials in U.S. beef shipments led Japan to suspend U.S. beef imports in January 2006 before resuming U.S. imports in July that year. Since 2007, U.S. beef exports to Japan have been on the rise. Read More