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Germany

EU considers Ban on German Organic Animal Produce

The German Ministry for Consumer Affairs is hastily convening a crisis conference today to stave off a possible European Union ban on organic animal produce from Germany.

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Pigs on several organic farms in eastern Germany are believed to have consumed contaminated feed

The worst might come true.

After reports of a fast-widening scandal over contaminated animal feed, Germany faces a possible EU ban on organic animal produce and animal grain due to concerns over contamination by a cancer-causing chemical.

The German weeklies Der Spiegel and Focus both reported on Saturday that the European Union Commission was considering a ban on Monday because it felt Germany had not kept it informed about a food scare over chicken meat tainted with the herbicide nitrofen.

Ban could make small organic farms bankrupt

Der Spiegel reported that if the EU-wide ban came into effect, it would be applicable in Germany too and would hit several organic farms because it would take months to lift.

The decision would deal a further blow to organic farming in Germany - an issue vigorously promoted by the spunky German Minister for Consumer Protection and Agriculture, Renate Künast, a member of the junior coalition party, the Greens.

German officials have already traced the main source of contaminated chicken feed to a grain store in Malchin in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Thousands of chickens are already being slaughtered in Germany after it emerged that tainted feed was delivered to more than 100 organic farms producing eggs and poultry.

Food scandal spreads like wildfire

Last week officials admitted that meat and eggs produced by the affected organic farms had probably already been consumed.

To make matters worse, Minister Renate Künast on Thursday said that the Malchin store may have also distributed the tainted feed to conventional producers, which could add greatly to the amount of contaminated produce.

Focus magazine also speculated that contaminated grain from the Malchin store could have made its way into bakery products or been sold as organic flour.

Europe unnerved by German food scare

The food scare in Germany has made other European nations jittery.

Belgium has passed emergency laws to block German foodstuffs it believes may be contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical and said other European countries
were considering similar steps.

Belgian Health Minister Magda Aelvoet said Berlin had not
yet provided enough information about a scare over chicken feed tainted with the potentially carcinogenic herbicide, nitrofen, which is banned throughout the European Union.

Swiss authorities last Wednesday impounded about 400 tonnes of imported German feed wheat for tests.

Officials in Germany have confirmed that German organic poultry producers in Lower Saxony sold meat from some 100,000 contaminated birds to buyers in ten German states as well as to Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria between November 2001 and May 2002.

Germany's deputy farm minister, Alexander Mueller said on Saturday he hoped to avert a threatened European Union ban on organic produce from Germany

He told a news conference that new information suggested that contrary to earlier fears, there was only one source of tainted grain and said Germany had the situation under control.

Mueller said he would send detailed plans to the EU
Commission on Sunday on what measures Germany was taking to contain the crisis.

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