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U.S., Japan to duscuss mad-cow fallout

DENVER — Japanese and U.S. trade officials plan to undertake joint research in Fort Collins today and Tuesday to find ways of ending Japan's ban of U.S. beef imports because of mad cow disease.

The sessions, at a U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinary health facility, will focus on technical issues related to the disease, USDA spokesman Ed Lloyd said.

Japan banned U.S. beef imports in December after the discovery in Washington state of a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease.

"We'll have two days of conducting on-site research so that the Japanese delegation can enjoy some of the information we have," Lloyd said.

Japan last year was the largest foreign buyer of U.S. beef, accounting for $1.5 billion of U.S. exports that totaled $3.8 billion.

Japanese officials have demanded that the U.S. test all cattle whose beef is bound for Japan for mad cow disease, which has a fatal human variant. In Japan, all slaughtered cattle are tested for the brain-wasting livestock ailment.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said last month that trade officials haven't yet agreed on a proposal that would eliminate the need to test cattle younger than 21 months old.

Animals of that age have not been found to carry the disease.

Veneman has said that testing all 35 million cattle slaughtered annually in the U.S. would be impractical and is not justified scientifically.