LUXEMBOURG, Dec. 31 -- Europe's battle against mad cow disease enters a new phase in 2001 with massive measures to deal with the crisis.
The New Year will be an expensive and busy one for the European Union's farming community.
Starting in January E.U. agriculture ministers have imposed a six-month ban on meat and bone meal in livestock feed. Such material is suspected of causing mad cow disease, also known as BSE.
E.U. nations are also launching a major testing program for the disease. Starting in January EU states will begin testing cattle over 30-months-old in a risk category - those showing symptoms of the disease or subject to emergency slaughter.
In July, the program will expand massively when tests will be done on all cattle over 30-months-old destined for the food chain. This will mean six to seven million tests per year. Altogether the measures will cost billions of dollars, but E.U. Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler in December said the expense is worth it.
"What we would like to know now is that we have a total overview and a 100 percent clarification of what happens in our member states. Because this then brings us ahead of all the other countries in the world because there are many countries in the world which never tested the question of BSE."
The 15-nation European Union is trying to restore public confidence in beef following a rash of new cases of mad cow disease. The latest crisis began after France reported at least 100 new cases in 2000 and it was discovered that some potentially infected meat had reach French supermarkets. Germany and Spain have also reported their first-ever cases.