South Korea to resume imports of Canadian beef

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Tuesday it has decided to resume imports of Canadian beef, lifting an eight-year ban imposed over fears of mad cow disease.

South Korea imposed the prohibition after the disease was discovered in a Canadian cow in 2003. Before the ban, South Korea was Canada’s fourth-largest beef export market, accounting for $43 million in sales in 2002.

South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry said the country will allow imports of Canadian beef from cattle younger than 30 months old — believed less susceptible to the disease. The imports must exclude riskier parts such as the brain, skull, eyes and spinal cord, it said in a statement.

It said South Korean lawmakers can review the plan.

Canada has urged South Korea to lift the ban and filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the issue in 2009, after the World Organization for Animal Health recognized Canada as a “controlled risk” country for beef in 2007, the ministry said.

In 2008, South Korea lifted a 4 1/2 year ban on U.S. beef, also restricting imports to meat from cattle younger than 30 months. The government had earlier pushed for fewer restrictions on U.S. beef, but that triggered weeks of massive street protests over worries about the meat’s safety and criticism that Seoul had made too many concessions to Washington.

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