Belgium has announced significant changes to its BSE policy, according to Reuters news agency. Government officials said that the country will cease the eradication of entire herds in the case of new outbreaks of mad cow disease on farms, but slaughter cows selectively.
Belgium's public health ministry said in a statement that only the offspring of an infected cow, cows born on the same farm one year before or after the infected cow and animals which were fed the same material during the first year of their life, would be slaughtered.
The decision is based on advice from EU and Belgian experts. The new rules could lead to a 50 to 80 per cent less slaughtering.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has been linked to variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has killed about 130 people in Europe.