Japan Lifts Ban on U.S. Beef

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TOKYO (AP) - The Japanese government has agreed to ease the
country's ban on U.S. and Canadian beef imports, effective

The decision, which was formally adopted by both the agriculture
and health ministries, resolves a bitter trans-Pacific trade row.
Sales could resume by year's end.

Easing the ban means meat from cows under 21 months old will be
allowed back into the Japanese market.

But new rules require U.S. producers to certify the cow's age, and also demand that U.S. inspectors follow strict guidelines, such as removing dangerous cow material such as brains and spinal cords.

Tokyo has banned American beef since December 2003, after the
first case of mad cow disease was detected in the U.S. herd.

Before the ban took effect, Japan was the most lucrative
overseas market for American beef. Japanese bought $1.7 billion worth of meat in 2003.