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Mad Cow and German Ministers
Part 2: BSE crisis timeline

The cattle epidemic BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) first occurred in the middle of the eighties in England. Farm cattle had been fed there for many years with animal fodder from the ground sheep corpses, which had suffered from scrapy, a spongelike brain damage. Scrapy rages for more than 200 years in British sheep herds. Humans were obviously never affected by it. Here's the chronology of BSE crisis in Europe:

1988: The British government forbids sales of the sheep-based feed to cattle owners, as well as the sales of infected cows' meat and milk. 

June 1989: Germany and France issue a general import prohibition for British beef. After protests by the European Union (EU)-commission, the regulation was later however removed. From then on the prohibition concerns only calves and beef bowels. 

February 1992: One cow imported from England, dies of BSE in Schleswig-Holstein. However it was reported by the Federal Department of Agriculture only at the beginning of 1994. 

June 1994: The sales of animal-based feed for the ruminants is forbidden in the EU. Animal-based feed for other animals such as pigs, poultry or fish remains permitted. The British government suppose meanwhile that sheep-based feed was also used after the prohibition of 1988. 

March 20, 1996: The British government confess publicly that human health could be dangerously affected by BSE. There is a possible connection with the new version of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJK). 

March 27, 1996: The EU commission imposes a world-wide export prohibition for British beef and its by-products. In April Great Britain is obligated to slaughter and destroy four million cattle older than 30 months. 

June 5, 1996: The EU commission loosens the export prohibition for beef seeds, fat and gelatin. In the end of June the EU state governments adopt a plan for a gradual removal of the export prohibition. 

July 17, 1996: The European parliament creates an investigation committee in order to uncover possible omissions in the fight with BSE. 

July 18, 1996: In all EU countries usable animal wastes must be exposed to a pressure of three bar and a temperature of 133 degrees Celsius during 20 minutes in order to kill BSE pathogens. 

February 25, 1997: Great Britain demands to remove the export prohibition for not infected cattle from Scotland and Northern Ireland. In June 1998 beef export from Northern Ireland was again permitted. 

Beginning of 1998: Swiss researchers develop a fast BSE test. According to the previous procedure, the result was only available after several weeks, while the new test already gave results after approximately ten to twelve hours.  

July 14, 1999: The EU commission removes the world-wide export prohibition for British beef. 

May 5, 2000: From the beginning of the next year fast BSE tests for cattle are prescribed all around EU. 

November 22, 2000: The obligation to the fast BSE tests starting from January 1, 2001 is expanded on all risk animals at the age of more than 30 months. 

November 24, 2000: For the first time BSE is discovered in a cow born in Germany, Schleswig-Holstein. Later another case of BSE was diagnosed also with a cow in Portugal, which probably originated from Saxonia-Anhalt. 

November 26, 2000: Germany makes a general prohibition for the animal flour-based feed. The prohibition is implemented as a regular law, and not like as express direction as it was planned first. 

December 1, 2000: Along with the Bundestag, Bundesrat also agrees to the general animal flour prohibition law. The land chambers require a relevant participation of federation and EU in the subsequent costs. Federal Health Minister Fischer prescribes obligatory tests for all slaughtered cattle over 30 months. 

December 2, 2000: German animal flour prohibition comes into force. 

December 4, 2000: Following German and French model of behavior, EU-Secretaries of Agriculture council decided on a EU-wide half-the-year-term prohibition of animal flour starting from January 2001. 

December 6, 2000: The obligatory BSE tests start in Germany. 

December 14, 2000: EU and German states create a working group, which has to submit solutions for the discussed division of costs for the suppressing of the BSE crisis. The solutions must be ready by the end of January, 2001.

December 17, 2000: The first BSE case in Bavaria is discovered and confirmed. The virus-carrier occurred to be a 1995 born cow from Sulzberg in the Oberallgaeu reared on a small farm. 

December 20, 2000: The first case, with which BSE possibly came
with living cattle openly to the outbreak, becomes known. The cow
was born forwards six and a half years in gang book in Upper Bavaria.

December 21, 2000: The number of the confirmed BSE cases in Germany rises to five. 

December 28, 2000: That first BSE case in Lower Saxony is reported. The four-year-old cow from a farm in Nortrup at Bersenbrueck in Osnabrueck was slaughtered on December 20, 2000. 

December 29, 2000: Saxonia-Anhalt as the first German state introduces a gene data base for cattle. Federal Chancellor Schroeder assigns the president of the Federal Audit Office, Hedda von Wedel, an analysis of the BSE crisis. 

January 2, 2001: Food testers search for falsely defined sausage in supermarkets, which contains beef no matter what the specification on the label says. 

January 4, 2001: Health minister Fischer wants to expand fast BSE tests on younger slaughtered cattle and to lower the age limit to 24 months. A mutual document of the state secretaries of agriculture and of the Environment Department is introduced, requiring a radical turn to the ecological farming. 

January 5, 2001: A special meeting of the committees for agriculture and health takes place In Berlin. Agriculture minister Funke presents an eight-point program for the change of the agriculture. 

January 8, 2001: Bavarian farmers no longer want to kill all animals of the herd automatically if there is one BSE-infected animal there. 

January 9, 2001: Health minister Andrea Fischer and agriculture minister Karl-Heinz Funke resign because of the BSE crisis. Altogether ten BSE cases in Germany are officially confirmed: six in Bavaria, two in Lower Saxony and two in Schleswig-Holstein.

January 10, 2001: Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder introduced the successors of the resigned ministers: Ulla Schmidt -- new health minister, and Renate Kuenast -- new agriculture minister. 

Next page > How Mad Cow Disease Affected German Cabinet > Page 1, 2, 3

Related links:

• Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
• Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
• Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
• Health Care in Germany
• Mad Cow Disease



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