U.S. President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin say they will work together to deal with the mad cow problem facing both their countries. The issue was on the agenda when the two leaders met on the sidelines of a hemispheric summit in Monterrey, Mexico.
President Bush said it will take a lot of cross-border coordination to resolve the problem. "We've got a lot of beef going across the border. We've got beef on the hoof and beef in the box. And the cattle industries are very important for our respective provinces and states," he said.
Prime Minister Martin agreed that the cattle industries of Canada and the United States are intertwined. "This is a North American industry and the solutions are science-based. And those science-based solutions are going to be arrived at between the two of us. And that is where the coordination comes in," he said.
The first case of mad cow disease in the United States was recently discovered in the Pacific northwest in a Holstein that apparently came from Canada. Dozens of countries that are major importers of American beef immediately imposed import restrictions.
President Bush said the only way to satisfy customers at home and abroad is to show that the U.S. and Canada have a unified approach to the matter involving regulation, science and information. He went on to stress he is very confident in the safety of the beef supply. "I personally haven't stopped eating beef. I like to eat beef and will continue eating beef, because I believe the food supply is safe," he said.
The president said a meeting is planned for later this week between U.S. and Canadian agriculture officials.