Canada Pressures U.S. to Lift Beef Ban

OTTAWA - Canada's agricultural minister is putting pressure on the United States to reopen its borders to beef shipments, arguing there is no scientific justification to maintain the ban. Nearly 2,000 tests for mad cow disease in Canada have turned out negative.

"We don't feel there is justification to keep the border closed," Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief told reporters, adding: "My guess is they will have their views on that."

Canadian officials briefed the U.S. on Tuesday on the conclusions of an investigation into a single case of mad cow disease found in northwestern Alberta.

The summary of a report by international experts reviewing the probe will also be sent to the United States in coming days, Vanclief said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking a "methodical and aggressive" look at the probe and preliminary information from the international experts, but it is too soon to say when a decision will be made, USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison told reporters.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said the USDA planned to ease the trade ban and allow imports of muscle cuts and live cattle younger than 30 months of age, although he added that the timing was not yet known.
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