Philippines to lift ban on U.S. bone meal

18:14, October 27, 2009      

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Manila may soon lift an 8-year old ban on ruminant meat and bone meal (MBM) from the United States, a senior official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday.

Agriculture Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla said in a text message that the DA's attached agency, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), has already recommended the lifting of the ban.

"The recommendation is now awaiting the approval of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap," said Fondevilla.

The DA official said the Philippines is now looking at removing the ban on MBM from the U.S. as it no longer poses significant risk of transmitting bovine spongiform encelopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease.

The ban on MBM was imposed by the Philippine government in July 2001 by virtue of Memorandum Order no. 8 signed by former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Q. Montemayor. This move was undertaken to ensure that the country's local cattle population will not be hit by mad cow disease.

The memo not only covered MBM from the U.S. but from all other countries. The Philippines imposed a total ban to ensure that no illegal shipment will enter the country.

The Philippines has already lifted the ban on ruminant MBM from Australia in 2008 and from New Zealand in 2007.

In lifting the ban on New Zealand and Australian MBM, the Philippine government cited the processing parameters used by both countries which it deemed appropriate to mitigate the hazards relevant to human and health present in their countries.

On Monday, the U.S. government expressed hopes that Manila will re-open its market for ruminant meat and bone meal.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack led a Trade and Investment Mission in the Philippines which kicked off on Oct. 26. Around 20 U.S. agribusiness firms are currently exploring business opportunities in the Philippines.

Aside from re-opening Manila's market for bone meal, Washington is keen on increasing its shipments of fresh vegetables to the Philippines.

Figures from the USDA show that two-way trade of agricultural products between the Philippines and the U.S. reached almost 3 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.

Source: Xinhua
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