WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2007-The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it will
expand the list of allowable imports from countries recognized as
presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) into the United States. Currently, Canada is the
only minimal-risk country designated by the United States.

"This rule is firmly based in science and ensures that we continue to
protect the U.S. against BSE," said Bruce Knight, under secretary for
marketing and regulatory programs. "It also is consistent with our
commitment to promote fair trade practices and further normalizes trade
with countries that institute the appropriate safeguards to prevent the
spread of BSE."

This rule makes final a proposed rule published in the Jan. 9, 2007
Federal Register.

It also builds upon and expands the rule published by APHIS in January
2005 that allowed the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant
products, including cattle under 30 months of age for slaughter from
countries recognized as minimal risk. The final rule announced today
allows for the importation from Canada of:

Live cattle and other bovines (i.e., bison) for any use (including
breeding) born on or after, March 1, 1999, which APHIS has determined to
be the date of effective enforcement of Canada's ruminant-to-ruminant
feed ban;

Blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain
conditions; and

Casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines.

The January 2005 final rule, the first MRR rule, allowed the importation
of Canadian bovine meat and meat products of any age. Subsequent to the
publication of the final rule in January 2005, USDA delayed the
applicability of those provisions of that final rule that dealt with
meat and meat products from animals 30 months of age or older. With this
final rule published today, that temporary delay in applicability is
lifted and importation of these meat and meat products now can occur.

As part of its BSE rulemaking process, APHIS conducted a thorough risk
assessment following guidelines put forth by the World Organization for
Animal Health, or OIE, that evaluated the entire risk pathway, including
mitigations in place both in Canada and the United States. The
assessment also included evaluating the likelihood of BSE introduction
via imports, the likelihood of animal exposure in the U.S. if this were
to occur and the subsequent consequences. The assessment found that the
risk of BSE establishment in the United States as a result of the
imports announced today and those announced in January 2005 is
negligible. APHIS considered new information related to the risk
assessment, including Canada's identification of animals born after the
date of the feed ban to evaluate the potential impact and determined
that the original assessment was sufficiently robust that new data did
not change the conclusions of the assessment. The risk assessment
underwent a thorough, independent peer review in which all of the
reviewers concurred with APHIS' risk assessment. The reviewers agreed
that APHIS followed OIE guidelines and standards and acknowledged the
scientific rigor of the assessment.

Additionally, APHIS encouraged the public to participate in the
decision-making process by providing feedback through the submission of
public comments. The public comment period on the proposed rule opened
Jan. 9, 2007 and closed on March 12, 2007.

There are a series of interlocking safeguards in place to protect animal
health from BSE transmission. These longstanding safeguards include the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban,
import controls, aggressive disease surveillance and U.S. slaughter

Moreover, human health in the United States also is protected by another
system of interlocking safeguards that ensure the safety of U.S. beef.
The most important of these safeguards is the ban on specified risk
materials from the food supply. Canada has similar safeguards in place.

The final rule is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 18, 2007
Federal Register and becomes effective Nov. 19, 2007. Additional
information is available at
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