Posted: 11 Jan 2011 06:53 AM PST
BERLIN/HAMBURG (Reuters) - German authorities said on Tuesday the highly toxic chemical dioxin had been discovered in pork in addition to poultry products, which would expand the scope of a current health alert.
German and European Union authorities are dealing with an alert that started on Jan. 3 when German officials said dioxin-tainted feed had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs and poultry meat at the affected farms.
Authorities in the northern state of Lower Saxony said on Tuesday pork from one pig farm had shown dioxin levels above permitted levels and that several hundred pigs on the farm had been slaughtered and the meat disposed of.
Samples of pig meat on another farm had shown dioxin levels at around permitted levels, the state said.
Prosecutors in Germany are investigating the cause of the contamination and specifically whether industrial fats and feeds company Harles and Jentzsch distributed fatty acids meant for industrial paper production to animal feed processors.
NEW EU DIOXIN CHECKS
Meanwhile, the association of EU animal feed makers Fefac said on Tuesday it was developing a new plan to monitor dioxin in the feed fat supply chain which it hoped to have drafted by the end of January.
"Although the German authorities consider fraud at the fat blending plant which mixed technical fats in feed fats as the most plausible road of the contamination, we as customers, must take all necessary and effective action which can help preventing such incidents in the future," said Fefac president Patrick Vanden Avenne in a statement.
"In our view, this would require a combination of an industry-own structured monitoring plan and specific legal requirements for the approval of fat blending plants."
Fefac also repeated its call for the strict physical separation of industrial/technical fat production from food fat output.
"All premises having a separate "non-feed" related activity on the same site, must be seen as high risk plants and controlled accordingly," Avenne said.
EU officials said on Monday some tainted animal feed had been exported to France and Denmark. South Korea has restricted imports from Germany because of the affair, and Russia has said it may also take action.
EU WELCOMES GERMAN ACTION
On Tuesday German officials briefed their EU counterparts in Brussels on the latest developments. An EU Commission spokesman said the member states welcomed Germany's handling of the crisis but there were still questions to be answered by Germany on the precise cause of the contamination.
German prosecutors investigating the contamination have already said they may bring criminal charges.
A German parliament committee is also due to discuss tougher safety controls on the animal feed industry.
Russia, an important customer for German meat exports, said on Tuesday it would hold talks with a German minister on Jan. 19 about the affair.
Dioxins are formed by burning waste and through other industrial processes and have been shown to contribute to increased cancer rates and affect pregnant women.
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 11 Jan 2011 06:53 AM PST
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A long-stalled civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between Russia and the United States entered into force on Tuesday in a milestone for the "reset" in relations between the former Cold War foes.
The so-called 123 Agreement took effect with an exchange of diplomatic notes between Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in a brief ceremony in Moscow.
The agreement, signed in 2008 but shelved by the White House amid acrimony over Russia's war with U.S. ally Georgia, was revived by President Barack Obama as part of his campaign to improve ties and bolster trade and security cooperation.
It creates a legal framework for closer cooperation between the United States and Russia on civilian nuclear research, production and trade, and both sides said it would help fight nuclear weapons proliferation.
Ryabkov called the accord "a serious achievement that I'm sure will have the most positive effect for cooperation between Russia and the United States in other spheres."
Beyrle said: "This agreement enables the two leading nuclear powers to find new ways to resolve global problems.
"Our cooperation can bring major achievements in the use of nuclear energy, and in turn help to curb nuclear proliferation, to fight against global warming and to provide for the world's energy needs," he said, speaking in Russian.
Specifically, Beyrle said Russia and the United States could cooperate in developing new reactors, fuels and other technology that would lessen the risk that dangerous nuclear materials could fall into the wrong hands.
The agreement will also help the nations implement a deal signed last month calling for conversion of Russian research reactors to the use of low-enriched uranium fuel instead of high-enriched fuel that can be used to make weapons.
It permits the transfer -- subject to U.S. licensing decisions -- of non-restricted technology, material and equipment including reactors and components for nuclear research and power production.
The deal will also allow nuclear energy joint ventures between Russian and U.S. companies and could potentially give Russia the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel that originated in the United States.
The agreement was signed during the Bush administration, but the White House withdrew it from consideration by Congress after relations with Moscow soured during the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
Resubmitted by Obama in May, it survived a review period in Congress last month despite opposition from some Republicans.
It comes into force amid expectations that Russian lawmakers will soon vote to ratify New START, a strategic nuclear arms limitation pact that is central to the "reset" and won approval in the U.S. Senate last month.
The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament said on Tuesday that lawmakers were likely to vote their final approval of the treaty by the end of January.
(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Trevelyan)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
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