STC Number - 125

BSE related measures

Maintained by: Argentina
Raised by: Canada
Supported by: United States of America
First date raised: June 2002 G/SPS/R/27 paras. 60-63
Dates subsequently raised: November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28 paras. 46-49)
April 2003 (G/SPS/R/29 paras. 78-80)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/ARG/65
Products covered: 02 Meat and edible meat offal; 0201 Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled.; 0202 Meat of bovine animals, frozen.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Human health; Risk assessment; Zoonoses
Status: Resolved
Solution: In September 2004, Canada informed the Secretariat that the issue had been resolved with Argentina.
Date reported as resolved: 01/09/2004

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2002, Canada indicated that Argentina appeared to have copied the EC geographical BSE risk categorization scheme (GBR), and had not followed an international standard or conducted a risk assessment. Canada was surprised to have received a level two rating, since Argentina had not requested any data from Canada. This rating could unjustifiably damage Canada's reputation. The representative of Canada questioned why the scheme had been notified as an emergency measure, and why Argentina had followed the EC measures instead of carrying out its own analysis. He also questioned why Argentina had not asked Canada for information or data prior to putting the measure in place. The representative of the United States shared Canada's concern and encouraged Argentina to consider the BSE risk assessment and data from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

The European Communities clarified that the GBR had started in 1998 and was currently under revision. The Scientific Steering Committee worked on the basis of information provided by exporters.

Argentina explained that its measures were based on the available information. If a Member felt the categorization was unjust, it should present the necessary technical information, in which case the review would be given priority. Argentina believed its system was in compliance with the OIE Code. Argentina had to take urgent action to update its BSE measures and any delay would have posed unacceptable risks to Argentina's own BSE status.

Brazil noted that automatic procedures in this area could be harmful to the reputation of countries. Members should consult with each other first.

In November 2002, Canada recalled that at the last meeting his country had expressed concern that Argentina appeared to have copied the EC geographical risk assessment rating scheme relating to BSE without having conducted a risk assessment. At that time Canada had also expressed surprise at having been given a Level 2 ranking without Argentina having requested any data or information in order to conduct a risk assessment prior to putting the measure in place. Argentina had undertaken to resolve the issue within a matter of days following the last meeting. Canada recalled that it had provided a large body of information to Argentina in June but had not yet had a response. Canada did not have BSE and did not understand how it could have been given such a rating without any risk assessment having been conducted by Argentina.

The United States shared Canada's concern regarding Argentina's BSE-related measures, and recalled that they had also raised the issue at the last meeting. At that time he had reported on the completion of a risk assessment on BSE that had been conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and encouraged Argentina, as well as other countries, to incorporate this information in any risk assessment performed regarding BSE, and to bear in mind that the United Sates was also free of BSE.

Argentina reported that after having reviewed the measure his authorities had decided to amend the provision in Annex II which contained the country ranking based on a risk assessment of the criteria contained in the measure. These amendments would be undertaken soon, and Argentina would inform both the United States and Canada. He further indicated that Argentina was completing its analysis of the additional information submitted by Canada, and a reply would soon be provided bilaterally.

Canada noted his country's appreciation for the efforts undertaken by Argentina to address this issue. Canada noted that some positive steps had been made and reaffirmed the commitment of his government to provide any further information and data that might be useful to Argentina in order to confirm Canada's status.

In April 2003, Canada recalled the concerns he had previously expressed with respect to the use by both Argentina and Uruguay of the European Communities' BSE risk assessment as the basis for their BSE-related measures and classification of countries. He reported that the authorities of both countries had revisited their earlier decisions and agreed they would undertake their own BSE risk assessments.

The United States echoed the positive statement by Canada, but noted that although Argentina's resolution allowed for the re-categorization of the BSE status of the United States, significant scientific evidence had been provided to Argentina which exceeded the OIE criteria for recognition as a BSE-free country. Consequently any restrictions were wholly unjustified. In this respect the United States requested Argentina to lift its restrictions on the importation of sweet breads.

Argentina reported that substantive progress had been made on this issue and he was confident that further bilateral consultations would result in its resolution.