News Update
Feb. 8, 2006


Prime Minister Says Japan Will Not Lower Standards

Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Japanese legislators yesterday that the country would not lighten standards for importing U.S. beef, according to The Associated Press.

“Americans should understand that Japan’s safety standard is strict,” he stated in the AP article. “They should understand that Japan’s stricter standard only allows cows younger than 20 months, even though 30 months is considered safe elsewhere.”

Koizumi has met much criticism since Jan. 20, when Japanese inspectors discovered U.S. beef shipments containing spinal material in violation of trade agreements. The prime minister was accused of bowing to U.S. pressure after the ag minister admitted that government inspections were conducted only after Japan’s ban on U.S. beef was eased.


WTO Rules Against EU Trade Restrictions

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a ruling against the European Union (EU) and six member countries, stating the entity had illegally restricted imports of genetically modified crops. According to Reuters, the ruling declares current bans in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy and Belgium illegal and in need of revision.

Argentina, Canada and the U.S. had brought the complaint against EU member nations, noting the safety of biotech products.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said the facts on ag biotechnology are clear and compelling. “It is a safe and beneficial technology that is improving food security and helping to reduce poverty worldwide,” Portman said. “We believe agricultural biotechnology products should be provided a timely, transparent and scientific review by the European Union, and that is why Canada, Argentina and the United States brought the case in the first place.”

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns added that the adoption of ag biotechnology worldwide provides evidence of its tremendous benefits to farmers and rural communities. “Global biotechnology acreage has increased more than 50-fold in the first decade of commercialization, with more than one billion acres planted,” Secretary Johanns stated in a release. “More than 8.5 million farmers in 21 countries, including five EU nations, are reducing pesticide use, receiving higher yields and preventing erosion by planting biotech varieties.”


Educational Web Site Available

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF) and Pfizer Animal Health have announced that the Cattle Learning Center, established in 2005 and available at, will include even more educational tools producers can use at home.

The site will serve as a true Web-learning facility, including updates and improvements that provide educational tools such as self-paced teaching modules. The modules provide detailed illustrations, quizzes, videos and interactive calculators.

In addition, teaching kits, learning guides, and other educational materials and templates will be available.

The Web site is just one of the initiatives enveloped in the Cattle Learning Center. It is the first Web-based program to emerge from Pfizer’s $3 million grant to NCF, unveiled at the 2004 Cattle Industry Annual Convention.


— compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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