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Government backs away from total ban on animal meal

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, has called for partial ban on using meat-based meal as animal feed. The statement follows a European Commission proposal for a complete ban, in the wake of the BSE crisis.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Dreifuss said the government was seeking only to ban the feeding of animal meal to herbivorous animals. She said the measure should be in place by next March.

However, she backed away from calling for a total ban on the use of animal meal as feed, saying it could still be fed to non-herbivorous livestock.

Her suggestion falls short of a European Commission proposal, issued on Wednesday, which recommended a total ban on using animal meal as feed.

The Commission's decision comes in the wake of the crisis over BSE - or mad cow disease - and is aimed at restoring consumer confidence in beef. Sales have plummeted across much of the European Union following the discovery of new cases of a brain-wasting disease in humans, which has been linked to BSE.

France, Germany, Britain and Portugal have already banned meat-based feed for all animals. But other European countries, including Switzerland, still use it as feed for other livestock such as pigs.

Dreifuss's call was backed by the head of the main consumer watchdog, Simonetta Sommaruga, who said a total ban on meat-based feed would be incredibly wasteful.

swissinfo with agencies

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