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Mercosur Intent on Eradicating Foot and Mouth Disease

The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply, Roberto Rodrigues, emphasized the mutual effort to eradicate hoof and mouth disease as one of the results of the 9th Meeting of the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS), which gathered the ministers of the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Chile, and Bolivia, Tuesday, April 11, in BrasÀ­lia.

Government policies for regional health protection and ways to expand markets were discussed at the meeting. The effort to eradicate hoof and mouth disease in regional herds will be carried out in conjunction with the IADB (Inter-American Development Bank), according to the minister, who also underscored the importance of the agreement signed between the World Bank and the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). The two institutions will earmark US$ 500,000 for projects to keep bird flu out of Latin America.

The FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, José Graziano, said that the funds will also be used to inform the population.

"The region is protected, and, in the short run, does not face the possibility of developing an outbreak of bird flu. But the population is lowering poultry and egg consumption, which constitutes absolutely no risk. So far there is no registered case anywhere in the world of contamination by consumption," he affirmed.

The FAO is allocating US$ 1.5 million to combat cross-border diseases, including bird flu. Data from the organization show that poultry represents 13% of Latin America’s animal production and that Brazil accounts for half of the poultry produced in the region.

The poultry business represents 1% of regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is responsible for the creation of 2 million jobs. According to Graziano, 25% of the diet of Latin Americans is composed of agricultural products.

During the encounter the ministers announced the foundation of the InfoCAS, a communications network aimed at increasing the visibility of actions in the agricultural sphere. They also decided to extend Bolivia’s mandate as president of the Council, which was scheduled to terminate in June, through January, 2007.

Agência Brasil

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