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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is to resume exports of beef to Canada from 19 of its member countries for the first time since 1996 when they were halted in the wake of the BSE "mad cow" disease scandal.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that Canada's action was part of a growing trend to recognize the measures put in place by the European Union to eradicate BSE.
"We call on our few remaining international trading partners who still maintain restrictive measures, to fully adopt recognized international standards," the Commission said.
The United States cleared Irish beef for shipment in January after the world's biggest beef buyer banned EU imports in 1998. Ireland also secured access again to China the following month.
Saudi Arabia lifted a 15-year-old ban on French beef last week.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s, spreading from there to other parts of Europe. It has been linked to the brain-wasting condition, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The opening up of Canada to beef will provide some relief for farmers currently hit by a Russian ban on EU food imports.
Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Jane Merriman