* Russia is the largest buyer of Brazilian beef
* Does not see enough grounds to ban all imports from Brazil
By Melissa Akin
SKOLKOVO, Russia, Dec 17 Russia, the largest
buyer of Brazilian beef, is unlikely to ban all beef imports
from Brazil due to a suspected case of atypical bovine
spongiform encephalitis, the head of Russia's veterinary and
phytosanitary service said.
"We are analysing the data now, but we do not see enough
grounds to place import restrictions on the whole country,"
Sergei Dankvert said in an interview on the sidelines of a
meeting with Italian diplomats.
China, South Africa and Japan suspended beef imports from
the world's top meat exporter while seeking details about the
death of an elderly cow in 2010, which never actually developed
the disease. None of these countries are
significant buyers of Brazilian beef.
Dankvert said that if restrictions were imposed, they would
most likely apply to the state where the sample originated.
Atypical BSE can arise in elderly cattle due to a
spontaneous genetic mutation that causes the animals to begin
producing distorted proteins known as prions. The proteins can
trigger BSE, which eventually destroys the animal's nervous
system, and it is believed humans ingesting beef from a stricken
animal can contract a fatal form of the disease.
A 13-year-old cow in southern Brazil tested positive for
prions, a result confirmed by the World Organization for Animal
Health (OIE) last week. But it died of other causes in 2010 and
never actually developed the disease.
The animal was buried on the farm where it had been used for
breeding purposes and never entered the food chain.
Russia, meanwhile, is also monitoring imported U.S. pork and
beef for ractopamine, a feed additive, but has not turned away
any meat since the monitoring regime was imposed, Dankvert
Russia stepped up tests last week on U.S. and Canadian meat
imports for traces of the additive and demanded that both
nations certify their meat as ractopamine-free. U.S. exports
alone to Russia are worth about $500 million.
Ractopamine is in a class of drugs known as beta inhibitors
or blockers that counteract the effects of adrenaline on the
nervous system and slow the heart rate. In livestock, it
promotes muscle gain.