S.Korea suspends German pork imports over dioxin scare - EU

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South Korea has suspended imports of German pork, the first country to take such radical action over the dioxin contamination crisis, a European Union spokesman told AFP Saturday.

The spokesman added that the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, considered the move disproportionate.

German officials said Friday they had shut 4,700 farms and destroyed more than 100,000 eggs, as a widening crisis over tainted animal feed rocked the country, with authorities suspecting illegal activity.

"The South Koreans have told us they are suspending the imports of pork from Germany, to our knowledge the first country to take such a step," Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the European Commissioner in charge of health, John Dalli, said.

"It is a decision which is out of proportion as to what is going on in Germany, but we are going to try to talk with the South Koreans to reassure them," he said.

"In the European Union, no country has taken any specific measures" of this order, he added.

Brussels does not consider there are grounds for declaring a ban on exports of German meat or other products from Germany "because the farms have been closed and farm products which have been delivered are blocked, awaiting analysis," Vincent said.

A spokesman for German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told a news conference Friday that "4,709 farms and businesses are currently closed", including 4,468 in the state of Lower Saxony, northwest Germany.

The farms will be closed until they are found to be clear of contamination with dioxin, a toxic chemical compound that can cause cancer if ingested in large doses, and will not be allowed to make any deliveries, spokesman Holger Eichele said.

Nearly all types of farms, especially those rearing pigs, have been affected by the closures in eight of Germany's 16 states, the agricuture ministry said. There are around 375,000 farms in Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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