World News – 24 November 2006

0share Tweet0 Share0 Share Share0 Print0 Email0  Five cattle countries form alliance Five cattle-producing countries have formed an alliance to work together on eliminating trade barriers and setting standards for […]

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Five cattle countries form alliance

Five cattle-producing countries have formed an alliance to work together on eliminating trade barriers and setting standards for welfare and animal health management. Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico decided on the alliance at a meeting hosted by the Cattle Council of ­Australia. The countries agreed to work together to push for stronger animal identification systems, vigilant ­quarantine approaches and a scientific approach to managing ­animal welfare. The group said ­concentrating on these issues would achieve the primary aim of raising consumer ­confidence in the safety of beef products. The alliance said it would pursue trade reform to boost access in Asia and the EU, and ­investigate participation as an NGO in international policy-setting bodies such as the Doha Round of the WTO negotiations. – Alan Harman

China rejects bird flu study

China’s top veterinary official has rejected a study that reported a new strain of bird flu in the country. The study, released recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the strain – called H5N1 Fujian-like – was found in almost all poultry outbreaks and some human cases in southern China, and was now also the dominant version in Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand. “There is no such new Fujian-like virus ­variant at all,” Jia Youling, director of the Chinese agriculture ministry’s veterinary bureau, said in a statement. “The data cited in the article were inauthentic and the research methodology was not based on science, therefore their ­arguments were not tenable and totally against the facts.” The study, conducted by scientists in Hong Kong and the US, said among 108 samples taken from Chinese poultry in April and June 2006, 103 (95%) were infected with the Fujian-like strain. The ­researchers said it was unclear how the strain had emerged or spread so widely. – Staff reporter

Relief for Aussie agribusinesses

Speaking at an emergency water summit in Canberra, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced that in exceptional circumstances, drought relief will be extended to small businesses which get 70% of their income from farmers in a drought-affected region, giving the businesses access to welfare and subsidies on interest rates. The new assistance will extend income support and interest rate subsidies to enterprises ­employing up to 20 staff until at least March 2008. According to South Australian premier Mike Rann, the country may be facing its worst drought in 1 000 years. – Alan Harman

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