by Staff Writers
Asuncion, Paraguay (UPI) Nov 16, 2011
Impoverished and landlocked Paraguay is under fire after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in its cattle farms that critics say was not stopped in time or in an effective manner.
Paraguay faces pressure from neighbors over alleged failure to deal with the problem, which critics fear puts agriculture and livestock in neighboring countries at risk.
Paraguay is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest.
The Latin American country lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south -- another reason for the current outcry.
Paraguay is caught up in tariff and trade disputes with Argentina, which handles much of its merchandise through its waterways.
The latest criticism of the beleaguered nation comes from the Southern Cone Standing Veterinary Committee, which accused Paraguay of not complying with promises it made to do more to control an ongoing incidence of foot-and-mouth disease. The outbreak in the north of Paraguay was first reported in September and has already led to political rows in the region.
The Southern Cone Standing Veterinary Committee, known by its Spanish acronym CVP, was established May 31, 2003, within the framework of the Southern Agricultural Council.
The committee reprimanded Paraguayan officials in no uncertain terms.
In a letter to Paraguayan chief of animal quality and health service Daniel Rojas, CVP President Dr. Ruben Robles accused Paraguay of failing to invite an expert team to oversee efforts to combat the disease.
CVP says it is ultimately responsible for the control of FMD in a region that includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. He said Rojas failed to implement promised reforms to counteract the disease. Rojas denied the allegation.
Although Paraguay's annual economic growth has exceeded 14 percent, it is still saddled with a huge informal economy and major income disparities. Because of the informal sector, the government's reach to the rural agricultural areas of Paraguay remains poorly monitored.
Robles accused Paraguayan officials of not acting on CVP offers to help control the FMD outbreak.
He complained in a letter to Rojas that CVP "does not know or has not been informed of the origin of the outbreak, with growing concern about the following silence which only generates domestic speculations in your country which then transcend borders."
This, he said, was despite Paraguayan promises to seek outside assistance, recorded at a CVP meeting held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last month.
A meeting of the committee is planned to take place in Montevideo, Uruguay, this week and Rojas is likely to attend.
Reports of the cattle disease have already complicated Paraguay's relations with Argentina, which blocked container traffic from Paraguay until the issue was resolved after high-level consultations.
Paraguay's neighbors say they are worried the landlocked nation's failure to enforce effective measures to control the foot-and-mouth disease in cattle put their own livestock at risk.
Critics also accuse Paraguay of playing down the true extent of the outbreak. While most Asuncion officials claim the disease is confined to a single farm, critics say FMD has already spread wider. At least 820 livestock have been killed so far as part of the Paraguayan effort to control the disease.
Concern over suspended Russian imports is a major factor in Paraguayan efforts to be seen doing something constructive about the outbreak. Reports said Russian authorities had rescinded a ban on meat imports from Paraguay. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the report.
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Japan bans Fukushima rice for radiation
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 17, 2011
Japan on Thursday announced its first ban on rice produced near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant after samples showed radioactive contamination well above legal limits. The findings will further worry nervous consumers, already fretting over the safety of domestic produce, despite its previous solid safety reputation. Authorities in Fukushima prefecture say rice produced near t ... read more
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