Japan has 14th mad cow case
TOKYO -- Japan confirmed its 14th case of mad cow disease today, underscoring concerns about the fatal brain-wasting illness as Tokyo mulls relaxing cattle-testing standards that could allow the resumption of U.S. beef imports.
The latest case came amid continuing talks between the United States and Japan aimed at lifting Tokyo's eight-month ban on U.S. beef imports from what had been their most lucrative overseas market.
Japan has been reconsidering its policy that all cows headed for market be tested for mad cow disease -- a requirement that has become a major sticking point in the negotiations.
Today, Japan confirmed its 14th case of the disease after a Holstein cow from northern Japan tested positive. It was the second case to crop up in less than a month.
The 4-year-old cow from the town of Shikaoi was found dead Saturday and experts who tested the animal confirmed today that it had mad cow disease, agriculture official Hiroaki Ogura said.
Tokyo has checked every slaughtered cow before it entered the food supply since 2001 after its first discovery of mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
It had insisted that Washington do the same before it lifted its ban on U.S. beef imposed last December after the discovery of the first case of mad cow in the United States. The United States, however, has refused, saying the process was costly and ineffective.
Japan bought $1.2 billion of U.S. beef in 2003, more than any other country, before it halted imports.